An eye-opener. A platform. An opportunity. These three words best describe my experience as one of this year's Green Talents. The 7-day Science Forum 2022 was an eye-opener to the continuous efforts of researchers worldwide toward a greener and more sustainable future. The forum started with the Science Pitch Sessions, wherein each of the 25 Green Talents introduced their research works to one another. And it was fascinating to witness how the 25 of us became united because of science despite the diversity in our cultural backgrounds. The SDG Sessions, which the Green Talents alumni led, have also provided more profound insights into their contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Meanwhile, the Science Sessions made me more appreciative of Germany's constant support to its researchers. I cannot emphasize this enough, but realizing the hard work of my fellow Green Talents and experts from renowned German research centers and the countless opportunities for young researchers like me has boosted my motivation to do my part as a sustainability researcher.
Moreover, the Science Forum served as a platform for me to build connections with the Green Talents and the leading sustainability researchers. The forum has facilitated mentoring programs, one-on-one discussions with professors of our own choice, and alumni and expert coffee tables. These sessions have opened the possibility of collaboration with institutions that share a similar vision of gaining a better, cleaner, and more sustainable society. The exchange of ideas and the sharing of passion for our research were overwhelming.
The Media Training and Green Late Nights were also worth noting. I love sharing my research, and Klaus’ training on science communication was one of my favorite sessions. I believe that awareness is the first step in any problem-solving process. It is also our role as researchers to make our audience understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. Oh, and the Green Late Nights excited me more about my future research stay in Germany!
Without a doubt, my participation in the Science Forum is an invaluable opportunity that I will forever be grateful for.
Earlier today, while I was finishing my experiment, I realized that I have been working with materials called a catalyst for more than five years. A catalyst can be defined differently, depending on the context it is being used. In chemical engineering, a catalyst is a material that increases the rate or speeds up the reaction without itself being consumed or affected. My dissertation focused on developing catalysts that can upgrade waste resources into more valuable products such as fuels. Depending on the requirement of the reaction, I would have to design the appropriate catalyst, e.g., an acid catalyst for an acid-driven chemical reaction.
On the other hand, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a catalyst can be an event or agent or person that can ignite action or change in others. The Science Forum has been a catalyst that inspired me to be a better researcher. It has provided avenues for growth and improvement for young researchers and starting professionals. It has reignited my passion for research and reminded me of why I started doing research in the first place, which is to contribute to making the world a better place for future generations.
With everything happening around us right now, the world needs empowered changemakers. Here’s to hoping that this Green Talents initiative of Germany will continue to catalyze the reaction of transforming aspiring individuals into top-grade researchers.
By Reibelle Raguindin
Post-doctoral Researcher at Hanyang University, Republic of Korea