Chang Qiao, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Arjan W. Kleij, has defended her PhD thesis entitled “Catalytic Formation of Heterocycles from α- and β-Epoxy Alcohols” (assigned to the Analytical and Organic Chemistry Department of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on June 23rd.
The members of the evaluation committee were: Prof.Dr. Antoine Buchard (Bath University), Prof.Dr. Paolo Pescarmona (Universiteit Groningen) and Prof. Dr. José Antonio Castro Osma (UCLM)
Dr. Qiao is from Hebei, China. In 2015 she obtained her BSc degree in Chemistry from Langfang Normal University and moved to Nankai University for her master’s in Organic Chemistry before joining the Kleij group at ICIQ for her PhD in 2018. She likes to spend her free time socialising, taking advantage of the weather and lifestyle. She also enjoys swimming in the ocean and hiking around the Tarragona coast.
Why were you interested in the creation of heterocycles for your thesis?
My thesis is focused on the catalytic formation of new structures of carbonates. Normally they are five-membered but I have worked to create larger ones, six or seven-membered. Before reports of large cyclic carbonates were very rare, so I was excited about taking on something new. I really enjoy tackling creative projects.
What applications can your work have in the future?
Polycarbonates offer a new strategy to build materials, like plastics, that can be recycled, offering a sustainable alternative to current materials.
From the lessons learnt during your PhD, which one do you value the most?
Before my PhD, when I came across difficulties, I tried to escape or ignore them. But life can be difficult, and when you are living in a foreign country and difficulties come your way you can’t escape them as easily as you used to. So, during these years I have learnt to accept that these situations are part of life: you just need to learn from the bad things and focus on the good parts of life and move on.
What ICIQ moment you’ll never forget?
The first day I arrived at ICIQ, talking with Maria at reception and meeting Arjan and Ingrid, who showed me around the institute. I remember everything about that day… and I think I’ll also remember everything from my last day at ICIQ!
Chemistry is fun because… you can create new things!
Favourite molecule? The epoxy alcohols I used as substrates for my thesis, I worked very hard to get them!
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
Vials! There are a lot of them, they are very useful and can be recycled. If you make a mistake or break one there’s always more, meaning that you always have the chance to start over!