The name “Paul Weiss” came to my notice when our group submitted a manucript to ACS Nano and later received an email confirmation. Driven by my curosity, I checked Prof. Weiss’s website and I still cannot figure out why I became so interested in this professor. Perharps because of his handsomeness? (I’m serious. Check his website: http://www.nano.ucla.edu/_psw/Weiss.html)
I managed to schedule a meet-up with Prof. Weiss after his talk on Tuesday during the MRS meeting. Prof. Weiss gave a talk introducing his group research work on molecular switches.
The motivation that drives his research team is their willingness to explore the chemistry world, especially nano-world where other people have not been. They started the molecular device work when another group of researchers claimed that they had made molecular wires. At that time, nobody had confirmed whether the molecules were wires. So his group came up with the strategy to isolate individual molecules. Later they confirmed the wire shape and measured the electrical conductivity of these molecular wires for the first time. Now the technology has been spread to many other research fields including nano-science, medicine, and neuroscience. Every time they developed a new tool, it opened up a tremendous amount of opportunities. In all, they research direction is driven by identifying questions and searching for solutions. “Who would care if we did it?” Get to know what other people care about.
The current technology still has its challenges. One of them is the incompetence to probe the behavior of the macromolecular scale. When asked why they specifically wanted to upgrade their technology towards super-molecular level observations, he answered “Everything in every scale humans made never comes close to nature can do in some cases.” The masterpieces created by nature are all macromolecules and his team wants to understand how they can build similar systems.
Prof. Weiss also gave some pieces of advice to graduate students who are new to scientific research. One most important thing he mentioned was to “choose a problem you care about”. Do not join a lab because the lab’s advisor is prestigious. “You want to be anxious to get out bed every morning, to get to lab. And you can’t do that because you think you are working for somebody or you care about what it is that you are working on.” It applies to everyone, including postdocs and undergraduates.
-Tianyu Liu UCSC