Edvin Fako, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Núria López (ICIQ), has defended his PhD thesis entitled “Speciation and activity of carbon based single atom heterogeneous catalysts for advanced synthetic processes” (assigned to the Physical and Inorganic Chemistry Department of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on January 21st.
The members of the evaluation committee were: Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (Utrecht University), Prof. Karoliina Honkala (University of Jyväskylä) and Dr. Rodrigo Antonio García Muelas (ICIQ).
Dr. Fako is from Vrsac, a small town in the north-east of Serbia. He obtained his degree (2015) and master (2016) in Physical Chemistry from the University of Belgrade. During his studies, Prof. Igor Pasti introduced him to computational modelling of heterogeneous catalysts and during his stay at the Petnica Science Center his interest in chemistry, physics, and science in general grew. That stay also marks the origin of his journey to ICIQ, as he found out about his future PhD position from a colleague from the Petnica Science Center. Thanks to a ”La Caixa” Severo Ochoa grant he did his PhD at Prof. Núria López’s group.
Why did you become a scientist?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a basketball player, basketball was my first love. Unfortunately, I didn’t grow tall enough for the amount of skill I have. I wanted to work on a profession that involves figuring out how things work because I was always good at that, and science involves a lot of figuring things out.
From the lessons learnt at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
In retrospect, two courses organized by ICIQ (BIST) proved most valuable. Firstly, the “python for scientists” opened my eyes to the vast possibilities and simple implementation of many complex ways of manipulating data. Finally, the data visualization/visual communication course saved me a lot of time and effort when trying to make figures that are self-explanatory. On another subject, I also learnt that you are more responsible for the mood of others than you think (and vice versa).
What ICIQ moment you´ll never forget?
The good ones are still under embargo! I enjoyed sharing my Mitja Marato story with half of the Institute. The coffees with Teca and “dank memes” with Julian were a staple.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
I have a few wants that I learned on my own: Time spent learning a skill is time saved doing repetitive tasks. Not all tasks need to be automated. Learn how to use colour for illustrations. Before sending, check recipient of email.
Where are you going next? What will you do there?
I have already started my postdoc in the group of Dr. Ansgar Schäfer (Quantum Chemistry and Hybrid Modelin at BASF, Germany), under the supervision of Dr. Sandip De. I’m spending my free time drinking beer and eating pretzels and curry wurst. I run and cycle a lot (thanks Marcos Rellan Piñeiro for motivating me to exercise!).
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
Since I am a computational chemist, I have to go for the coffee machine. Not because I love/need coffee, but as a tribute to Manu (Manuel A Ortuño) for secretly washing the coffee machine for years without me noticing.