Juan José Corral, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Atsushi Urakawa (former ICIQ Group Leader) has defended his PhD Thesis entitled “Continuous Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide to Formates and Formic Acid Over Heterogeneous Catalysts” (assigned to the Inorganic and Physical Chemistry Department at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on July 11th at the ICIQ Auditorium.
The members of the examining committee were: Prof. Arjan W. Kleij (ICIQ), Prof. Camille Petit (Imperial College London) and Prof. Jesús Arauzo Pérez (Universidad de Zaragoza).
Dr. Corral is from El Vendrell, near Tarragona. He studied Chemical Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and then got an Iberdrola grant to do a masters in Renewable Energy in Madrid. He then joined Abengoa, where he worked as a researcher investigating the use of nanomaterials for water treatment, before joining ICIQ to pursue his PhD. While in Tarragona he enjoyed meeting with friends, exercising and the sea – which he will definitively miss during the next year.
Why did you become a scientist?
In high school, I really enjoyed studying chemistry, physics and maths, so I decided to study Chemical Engineering because it combines all these fields. I was also drawn to engineer’s capacity to lead complex projects. In the future I hope my work will have an impact in the real world, I’d like to use chemistry and engineering to create a more sustainable environment.
From the lessons learnt at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
Having learnt to work in a multicultural group, where there were people from every corner of the earth. We all had to tune our communications skills to be able to work together efficiently– I have learnt something from everyone I worked with!
What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your PhD?
That pursuing a PhD can be tough – I believe people don’t say this enough. It’s important to be 100% sure about what you are doing because you’ll need to be very motivated.
Where are you going next? What will you do there?
Since April, I’ve joined CEPSA, with their “Challenging U-In Company” Programme. For a year, I’ll combine the training in the company with an MBA in Madrid. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the real world and how companies work.
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
Back Pressure Regulator: I had to fix it so many times during my PhD…. Now I know it like the back of my hand!