Muhammad Ali was born in Indonesia. There, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta in 2012. From 2014 until 217, Muhammad Ali was a student of the Master of Science in Chemistry at FAU. Since June 2017 he is working on his PhD on constructing nanoparticle networks by using supramolecular interactions at the Chair for Organic Chemistry II at FAU. Besides his love for chemistry, he also enjoys singing, cooking and travelling.
FAU is one of the best universities in Europe, especially in the materials science and chemistry field.
What is your field of research and what initially sparked your interest in this field?
My field of research is about constructing nanoparticle networks by utilizing supramolecular interactions. I find this topic so interesting because the field of supramolecular chemistry is a new sophisticated branch of chemistry which was coined by Nobel Prize winners in the late 80’s. Astonishingly, supramolecular chemistry is ubiquitous in nature, it is present in the DNA strains and among protein – enzyme interactions.
Why did you decide to do your Phd at FAU?
I decided to do a doctoral degree at FAU because here I have an outstanding supervisor as my doctoral father: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch. He is a prominent professor in his field who can be my role model regarding my scientific career. Not only because he has won many ERC research grants, but also his expertise in the scientific community is recognized among scientists in Europe and around the world. Beyond that, my professor works in the field that I am interest in the most, which is supramolecular chemistry.
Can you shortly describe what your Phd is about?
The main goal of my doctoral research is to construct nanoparticle networks by using supramolecular interactions. Nanoparticle networks form material in nano size dimension. And supramolecular chemistry in this case helps to have better control in organizing nanomaterials to build up a certain structure or network or architecture. Having control over nanoparticle networks can lead into the improvement of the utilization of materials. For example, better semiconducting materials for electronic applications.
What makes FAU attractive for international researchers?
FAU is one of the best universities in Europe, especially in the materials science and chemistry field. So many prominent professors work here and they encourage young researchers at FAU to make collaboration projects with other working groups. We cannot only gain the knowledge, but we can also build up connections with many different working groups.
How visible is FAU in your field of research?
I heard that FAU has many cluster research projects, one of them is Engineering and Advanced Materials (EAM) research cluster where I am working at. With a lot of research funding support from DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, German Research Foundation), ERC (European Research Council) and other resources, we can envision a long-term project in a certain research field.
Do you have an advice for researchers who think about coming to FAU?
I would suggest to them to find a suitable topic first and after that to contact the professor who works in the same field as they wish to. If there is a suitable working group here at FAU, do not hesitate to come here and start your research endeavour as soon as possible because FAU is great in supporting young researchers.
What makes FAU special to you?
The facilities provided by FAU to support my research are perfect. I learn so many techniques and can use so many devices to take data for my research. I have good access to scientific databases. There is also support in publishing a scientific paper. And there are a lot of facilities for free time activities from FAU to balance our life after work.
What do you like most about the Erlangen-Nürnberg region?
I love nature, when I get full with the stuff in the laboratory, I can easily escape to quiet and beautiful places in this region. My favourite place is the Brombachsee.
Do you have a favourite place at FAU and Erlangen or Nürnberg?
Close to Erlangen or Nuremberg there are some places that I visit often, for example the Dechsendorfer Weiher, the Birkensee or the Pegnitz area.
What did you find strange about German culture/the Germans at the beginning?
The strangest thing for me is that people here categorize their relations to other people in so many ways. What I mean with that is that they use so many different terms such as “Kumpel” (mate), “Freund” (friend), “Bekannter” (acquaintance), “Kollege” (colleague), and many others. Meanwhile in my country, in Indonesia, we only know and mostly use the term “friend” to nicely and warmly express our relation to other people, even with people whom we meet for the first time. And I have the impression that it is hard to make friends with local people here because we interpret the term “friend” in different ways. It often happened to me that I thought a local person was already my friend, but he or she thought that I am just a “Bekannter” or “Kollege”. This I found quite strange at the beginning.
Do you have a hobby and/or did you start a new leisure time activity since you came to Erlangen?
My hobbies are singing, cooking and traveling.
Thank you very much for the interview, Mohammad.