#IAmNYAS: José Padilla
Early in his studies José Padilla developed a passion for materials science and now he’s eager to share that with his students and mentees.
Academy Member José Padilla is not only preparing to present his doctoral thesis in materials science and finish his second degree in materials engineering at the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program in Barcelona, Spain. Learn how José became so passionate about his work that he wanted to share it.
Who has been your biggest science inspiration?
In my first materials science class during my undergraduate studies, I met Prof. Montserrat Cruells. She made me feel passion about the materials and I realized then that my next step would be to get a PhD in that field.
What has been one of the most rewarding moments of your career?
From the academic side, it was when the University of Barcelona awarded me with a prize for my Masters in Advanced Chemistry. And from a personal perspective, it was when I started teaching classes in my university as an assistant professor.
Why has teaching classes as an assistant professor been so rewarding for you?
The reason why teaching is important for me is because I always try to create the best classes possible, the most interesting, trying to be "that" teacher for the students - the one that motivates them to pursue a scientific career. I know that this is extremely difficult and I have to learn more about how to do it, but I think I am on the way.
What is one of the biggest challenges you're facing right now?
Following my latest investigations, I am starting to work with the most exciting material at the moment: graphene.
Tell us more about graphene? Why is it both such an exciting material and also such a challenge to work with?
Graphene was isolated for the first time in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov . It is a fascinating material with a thickness of only one carbon atom, nevertheless it is one of the best thermal and electrical conductive materials. It is also one of materials with the best mechanical properties - it is stronger than steel and at the same time it is very light. It's so exciting that many scientists are trying to use it in a variety of applications and are also trying to discover new ones - there's no limit. So being part of the effort to know more about this material is really exciting.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
From a professor of chemistry, Prof. Fernando Albericio: "Anyone can achieve the same as me, the only trick is that you have to love what you do, then you will be the best at it."
What do you think are the most important benefits the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program provides?
I believe the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program has two main benefits: on the one side, it helps the mentor realize the importance of communicating science in many innovative ways beyond academia, and on the other side, for the students who get a chance to spend time with young scientists, they get to share the enthusiasm of freaking out about the science together!
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