Oral history of British science
Islam, Saiful (7 of 8) Oral History of British Science
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Department of Chemistry, University of Bath
Islam, Saiful, 1963-(speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 7: Description of features of current home in Bath that are suggestive of/related to own scientific career. Comments on models of crystal structures in office, UOB; reproduction of Salvador Dali painting ‘Galatea of the Spheres’ at home and reproduced in lectures/talks; paintings of water molecule and rock salt structure on office wall; interest in relations between science and art developed through friendship/relationship at UCL; procurement of models of crystal structures in office. [5:53] Comments on discussion of own work with non-scientific friends, including tendency for such friends to be interested in clean energy applications. Brief comments on detail of joke made during inaugural lecture, UOB. [8:32] Comments on lack of awareness of RC’s reasons for helping self in career. [10:31] Story of involvement in local Labour Party while at UOS, including standing in local elections. [14:00] Story of development of research at UOB on computer modelling of SOFC and LIB materials, involving collaboration with experimental chemists, including PS, PB. [17:27] Description of collaboration with PB, involving mostly correspondence/exchange of data by email, telephone conversations. [20:07] Story of particular result of computer modelling during collaboration with PB concerning understanding of observed difference between two potential LIB materials. [23:20] Story of collaboration with PS at UOS then, following move to UOB, remotely. [24:46] Comments on writing of grant proposals. [27:16] Comments on reduced science funding through 1980s, affecting beginning of own career in 1990s, with increase after 2000; recent tendency for research funding to be directed/applied rather than exploratory. Brief comments on importance of scientific innovation in British industry. [30:33] Detailed comments on/discussion of own approach to writing scientific papers. Comments on competition with other groups working in a similar field, with related story. [40:51] Comments on own ‘favourite’ academic papers; reasons why particular papers tend to be ‘highly cited’ by other scientists. [45:37] Comments on application of own and others’ research in development of ‘green’ technologies, involving SOFCs and LIBs, such as hybrid electric vehicles (cars) and electricity storage solutions. [49:49] Further comments on nature of own ambition at the stage of postdoctoral work at EKC. Mentions material rewards of successful career in science. [52:58] Comments on awards and honours, including Francis Bacon Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry [RSC], RSC Sustainable Energy Award, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for contribution to development of ‘New Materials for Clean Energy Applications’ (mentions role of RC’s nomination). [55:08] Comments on future research, including that into sodium ion batteries and lithium air batteries; lack of managerial ambitions in research/university administration. [56:37] Comments on reasons for not seeking a management role in academia; experience of being head of the ‘inorganic section’ in the department of chemistry, UOB, including dislike of role in conduct of staff appraisals. [58:01] Comments on experience of teaching, UOB. [59:59] Comments on future technologies dependant on developments in own field. Brief description of lithium air battery.
Interview with Professor of Computational Materials, Saiful Islam