Careerindia brings you the interview with Mr Shamik Chowdhury, the winner of Green Talents Award in Germany. A few days ago, we had published an article about Mr Shamik winning the award. Read this enlightening interview to be inspired to take the path of research and more.
CI: How does it feel to be a Green Talents Award winner? Please share your experience of presenting seminars and being part of workshops in Germany.
Mr. Shamik: I feel deeply honored and privileged to receive this prestigious award from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). To be amongst the top 25 candidates in such a massively competitive platform further lays solidarity on my capabilities as a young and early career researcher.
Germany, in general, offers a productive and a highly diverse research landscape (as evident from the similar research capabilities of the extramural research institutes like Max Planck Institutes and TU9 universities). Touring across the country during the two-week 'Science Forum', attending workshops and presenting seminars provided me the rare opportunity to meet and interact with stakeholders of the German sustainability framework including experts from academia, research, and industry; engage in dialogue, exchange knowledge, and showcase a myriad of diverse ideas transcending an array of highly topical domains.
CI: Describe briefly about the 3D graphene monoliths (GMs).
Mr. Shamik: Three-dimensional (3D) graphene monoliths (GMs) (such as aerogels, hydrogels, foams, sponges, etc.) are an important new class of porous carbon materials. Due to their hierarchically interconnected networks and channels, 3D GMs exhibit exceptionally large specific surface area, high pore volume, excellent electrical conductivity, high electrochemical stability, and superior mechanical flexibility. These intriguing properties make them particularly appealing for fundamental investigation and potential applications in diverse technologies.
CI: How much does it cost to install a solar water heating panel with the 3D graphene monoliths for a family of 4?
Although 3D GMs are one of the most promising candidates for constructing high-performance solar water heating panels, it is still very challenging to produce them on a large-scale. A more stringent research effort is currently underway to explore cost-effective and environment-conducive techniques for the mass production of 3D GMs. It is only then that the actual cost of installing a solar water heating panel with 3D GMs can be established.
CI: What are the other areas of urban living where 3D GMs can be used for sustainable development?
Mr. Shamik: 3D GMs can also potentially improve the quality of urban living through their applications in cost-effective batteries, high-speed electronics, ultra-fast rechargeable electric vehicles, switchable smart glass, high-volume hydrogen storage, energy-efficient desalination, sensors for detection of pollutants, and remediation of contaminated air and water.
CI: How do you define Environmental Engineering? How relevant is it for today's world?
Mr. Shamik: Environmental Engineering involves the application of engineering principles to protect, conserve and restore the quality of our natural environment. The modern environmental engineer is dedicated to keeping our air and water free of pollutants, preserving our natural resources and eco-system, combating climate change, strengthening our water infrastructure, and promoting good health. This multidisciplinary field of study is vital to make our planet more liveable for both present and future generations especially when we take into account the ever-mounting population, growing energy demand, escalating environmental strain and so on.
CI: Do you think we should have more PhDs in Environmental Engineering?
Mr. Shamik: It is my firm belief that we should have more PhDs in Environmental Engineering with strong personal commitment toward addressing the current and emerging environmental concerns that continue to plague us.
CI: Has enough research been carried out in the field of environmental engineering? If yes, brief us on the same (where all the research has been performed and how fruitful has it been)?
Mr. Shamik: Climate change, pollution, land degradation, deforestation, water scarcity, and loss of biodiversity are some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Extensive research on these topics is currently underway across the globe.
CI: As a teacher, you try to inspire your students 'to integrate newly acquired knowledge and skills into their lives while creating a positive impact on society and eventually, the planet as a whole'. Do you see positive effects of your motivation?
Mr. Shamik: In my appointments as a Teaching Assistant, I have strongly realized that teaching is essential in inspiring individuals to discover their true purpose and concealed potential rather than merely transmitting knowledge. If you positively motivate your students, their action is most likely to have a positive outcome.
CI: Is the society doing its bit to conserve essential resources and save the planet from rapid environmental changes?
Mr. Shamik: Unfortunately, a large fraction of our society is still not well informed that the Earth is plagued by a wide range of environmental issues, many of which are exacerbated by poor industrial practices. Although there are many social campaigns that aim to raise awareness on conserving our essential resources and protecting the natural environment, much more needs to be done to achieve global sustainability.
It is high time that the society re-examines its ideas about economic growth, social equity, and resource utilization. We need a global movement where every individual is required to play an active role.
CI: What is your message to research aspirants? What are your future plans with regard to environmental engineering?
Mr. Shamik: While I expand my academic boundaries and broaden my research horizon, I am convinced that resource efficient and cleaner industrial practices would be a key driver for the successful integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. I therefore request aspiring researchers to become increasingly focused and determined to discover innovative and progressive solutions that would limit man-made environmental damage while ensuring economic progress and social welfare.
As our Earth becomes increasingly urban, cities ‒ their inhabitants and governments ‒ must take the lead in fostering a more sustainable stewardship of the planet's natural resources. To realize this vision, I aspire to take up a Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Environmental Engineering at a Tier-1 University in the near future.
I plan to unfold my career in a dynamic, progressive, and research-intensive university where I can further hone my pre-existing research skills and advance my creative talents toward sustainable urban development. I am specifically interested in conceiving an original dimension of eco-friendly products, processes and services that will upgrade the quality of urban life in the long-term.