Jifang Zhang

MSc Materials Chemistry 2015

Your Time at the University

I was from a chemical engineering background, but deep down I knew only science is for me. So, I chose materials chemistry at the University of Edinburgh for a master’s. In that year, I worked so hard that going out was almost a rarity, but that didn’t stop me from realising how beautiful Edinburgh was.

The School of Chemistry is like a gold mine. Every single member of staff was both incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. From them, I learned what a scientist is supposed to be like, without losing any character! As a physical chemistry lover, Prof. Neil Robertson and Prof. Carole Morrison’s classes were my favourite. In those lectures, textbooks are so well connected with frontier sciences that they made me feel I was doing research myself. The courses taken at the University of Edinburgh felt so hard for me because I had never studied solid state physics before, but I was not scared by it at all: the professors are always there to help; the department gave plenty of support on resources that we could use.

Jifang Zhang

King’s Buildings (KB) was not a very large campus but had top-notch facilities. Back then I was a daily visitor of KB Centre - the scenery from the top floor was the best company for work. It constantly inspires you! Also, the unbelievably short distance between my accommodation at West Mains Road and Joseph Black Building was also a huge convenience that I still miss a lot.

Your Experiences Since Leaving the University

The courses at the University of Edinburgh were unbelievably important to my research after leaving Edinburgh. The hard-core contents taught in Materials Chemistry programme has helped me a solid foundation for a PhD at the University of Bath, a postdoc at Tsinghua University, as well as my current job as assistant researcher at ShanghaiTech University.

When I was working on my project at the University of Edinburgh, there was a postdoc helping me almost hand in hand. But I was not so lucky after that. For the PhD, there were ups and downs like most others, but the challenging part was that being the one of the first PhD students in the group, I had to deal with all sorts of problems in the lab, and on a tight budget. This experience helped me see all walks of research and do things with constraints.

My main research interest is photoelectrochemistry and spectroelectrochemistry. This field is highly interdisciplinary, covering electrochemistry, semiconductor physics, nanomaterials, and spectroscopy. These aspects never make my work boring and I really enjoy it!

Alumni Wisdom

Be dedicated to one thing at a time, results will come to you quicker than you think.