Research builds bridges between apparently distant concepts, creating new knowledge in the process. In the same way, bringing together scientists from distant institutions reaps benefits for all involved.
The group of Prof. Núria López has hosted a student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a four-week remote internship through the MIT-Spain Program of MIT’s International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). MISTI is the flagship international program of MIT, its mission is to empower MIT students and faculty to advance knowledge and solve the world’s great challenges by connecting them with companies, research institutes, universities, and other organisations around the world.
Kevin Li, a second-year Chemical Engineering undergraduate, has worked on the development of a model system to evaluate the feasibility of including computationally derived reaction profiles into microkinetic and reactor models. Under the supervision of Prof. López and following the guidance of PhD student Albert Sabadell Rendón, Li derived Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs) to describe different systems for several catalysts. Using Density Functional Theory (DFT) data stored at ioChem-BD, the student coded and solved the ODEs to find how their rates changed over time. “I learnt how to approach ODE problems in coding and how to solve them,” explains Li. With the work done, Li presented the results obtained and the code developed to his peers at MIT.
The remote internship has benefited all partners, to Sabadell “It was great to have Kevin working with us, I’ve learnt a lot: I had to organise myself better, think ideas through to make them more comprehensible, pay attention to details… I even think my English has improved!” Prof. López says “we hope Kevin can visit us and enjoy our Institute and Tarragona.” While for Li, “Professor Lopez’s group was incredibly interesting in what they were trying to find. I would recommend this programme because it was a really great experience to talk with someone outside of your culture and to experience many new things at once – even though it was completely virtual!”