Dr. Keval Sonigara joined OSCAR in April earlier this year as a Research Scientist in the Optoelectronic Technologies Laboratory (OeTL) led by Profs. Bradley & Stavrinou and he is also a visiting fellow at the Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials, Soochow University, a main collaborator of the OeTL. Dr. Sonigara completed his PhD from Sardar Patel University in India specialising in organic photovoltaics, designing and synthesising advanced organic molecules for optoelectronic devices, and polymeric organic material for energy storage. This is a short interview with Dr. Sonigara about his research and his life in Suzhou:
Q: What is your current main research project and how is it progressing?
“For the last four months, I have worked with my research group members to fully develop the Advanced Materials Lab, part of the OeTL at OSCAR. As OSCAR is still a fairly new research institution, we are building our lab from bespoke, and we are currently installing equipment and purchasing chemicals. The lab will be in full workflow by the end of August and I am also ensuring that our lab is of the highest safety standards. OeTL has advance optoelectronic labs and I will be developing and synthesising advanced organic compound for printable devices. Moreover, I am currently writing project proposals to attract potential funding and cooperation.
In the meantime, I spend about 60% of my time in Soochow University, I have started a project working with Prof. Jian Fan’s team*, experimenting on synthesising charge transport material for optoelectronics devices. Additionally, I work with some master level students in Soochow University and providing them with academic support and guidance.”
Q: How are you finding your time working in OSCAR?
“Our research group at OSCAR is well managed by the Senior Research Scientist Dr. Jingsong Huang, and all members are very supportive and helpful. I have met with both of our PIs in the last month at OSCAR which is helpful for our future research. The OSCAR research environment is professional yet relaxed, for example, our weekly group meeting assists me to catch up with others’ work, to discuss any findings or challenges, and to plan my week ahead. As I am working at two institutions concurrently, I find it is very helpful that I have lots of freedom on deciding my own schedule.
Furthermore, the administration team of OSCAR is very friendly and they are always happy to help. As a foreigner who don’t speak Chinese, OSCAR staffs all know English well and it is very easy for me to communicate with them. In particular, they are informative and attentive on offering me general guidance and answering any personal questions.”
Dr. Sonigara with Prof. Stavrinou and research group member at OeTL
Q: Having lived in Suzhou for more than 4 months now, how do you find the city and how are you adapting and integrating your life here in Suzhou?
“To me, Suzhou is a very wonderful city, especially the Suzhou Industrial Park, which is really modern, vibrant and well developed. Currently, I live here with my wife near OSCAR, and we have recently attended many events celebrating both local and international culture, including the International Yoga Day, the International Family Day as well as the Dragon Boat Festival.
As vegetarians, my wife and I have found that there are lots of vegetables available here in Suzhou. We are also able to buy Indian groceries online and we have found many good Indian restaurants in SIP. There is also the Suzhou Indian Association which has more than 250 members and it connects us to the local Indian community.”
Q: Looking ahead, what are some of your plans and goals to achieve?
“Short-termly, I am aiming to have the Advanced Material Synthesis Lab up and running in full workflow by the end of this month, so I can start two concurrent projects relating to material development for printable optoelectronics devices and perovskite devices. In the meantime, I am working on a project with my former colleague now based in National University Singapore which I hope will have some good output in about 6 months time.
Dr. Sonigara experimenting in the OeTL
On a longer time scale, I hope that out of all my projects, I will be able to obtain some healthy and constructive outcomes for potential publications. Furthermore, I really hope that by working with the research group here in OSCAR as well as at Soochow University, the material compound I develop can be studied and explored at OSCAR which already has excellent facilities and equipment and thus, attracting wider interest and cooperation with not only neighbouring research institutions and universities, but also with national and international counterparts.”