Asmaul Hoque, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Antoni Llobet (ICIQ) has defended his PhD Thesis entitled “A Journey towards Efficient Molecular WOCs: From Mononuclear to Polynuclear Complexes” (assigned to the Departament Inorganic & Physical Chemistry at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on July 8th at the ICIQ Auditorium.
The members of the examining committee were: Prof. M. Victoria Jiménez Rupérez, (Universidad de Zaragoza), Prof. Montserrat Rodríguez Pizarro (Universitat de Girona) and Prof. Anna Lewandowska- Andralojc (Adam Mickiewicz University).
Dr. Hoque with the members of the examining committee and his supervisors, Antoni Llobet and Carolina Gimbert.
Dr. Hoque was born in Antardwipa, a very small village in West Bengal, where he lived until he went to the Calcutta University to study a major in chemistry. In 2013, he moved to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, where he did his masters and in 2015, he joined ICIQ with an AGAUR grant to pursue his PhD. Outside the lab, he enjoys practicing sports such as badminton and football. He absolutely loves playing volleyball – which he will surely miss when he has to leave Tarragona – and listening to music.
Why did you become a scientist?
It all started because I was very curious when I was growing up. For example, human beings are able to talk while plants – which are also living creatures – aren’t able to talk; or if you look at stones, they neither move nor talk. So, I was very curious to learn why different stuff behaved in different ways and had different functions. I didn’t know where it came from but I knew I wanted to know, and that if I ever understood how things worked it would be amazing. In addition, I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school, and during his lessons, I felt as I was part of the things he was explaining. I eventually discovered the beauty of chemistry, became increasingly interested in it and decided to pursue a career in chemistry.
What would you want to achieve as a scientist?
As a scientist, my dream is to use water as a fuel source, hoping that, at some point, the world’s industry and transportation will run on water. Before I die, I want to drive cars that use water as fuel instead of petrol!
From the lessons learnt at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
The enthusiastic attitude, immense support from my supervisors and the great people I’ve met are the things that I value the most. In addition, ICIQ is a multinational and multicultural institute. We get to work with people from completely different backgrounds, cultures, and mentalities. This allows you to grow, not only as a scientist but also as a person and I think this is a very important lesson that I have learnt here at ICIQ.
What ICIQ anecdote you´ll never forget?
There are many anecdotes that come to mind! In 2016, Bala, an Indian student who was carrying out his PhD next to my Lab, and I had a very good relationship and had tea every afternoon at 5 pm. Bala was a very popular guy, everyone talked to him and so he was aware of every coming and going at ICIQ, including the arrivals of new students. One summer day, an Indian-looking student appeared in my lab. Bala was so surprised no one had told him about it. That afternoon we had tea as usual and he was so curious to know. The first two minutes, he was expecting me to tell him everything about the new student… but I did not talk about it – intentionally. At some point, he could not control it any longer and started asking. That moment was so funny and we started laughing a lot. I still laugh out loud when I remember that day.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
My advice would be: be patient and passionate about what you are doing. At the beginning of your PhD, you think you’ll have great ideas, execute them and that everything will work out well and your results will match your expectations. But once you start the PhD, you quickly realise 80 to 90% of the things you are doing at the lab do not work! So, you need to be prepared for that. If you are not passionate, you’ll be super frustrated, and you need to know what to do with this frustration to get further ahead.
Where are you going next? What will you do there?
I’ll be going for a postdoctoral position at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the United States of America. There I’ll be focusing more on organic molecules transformations, such as from alcohols to ketones or C-H activation.
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
I’d love to be a round bottled flask: whatever the discovery in synthetic chemistry, it has happened there!