Feature

Hottest scientists in the world

NTU professors David Lou and Zhang Hua are the only two from Singapore and Asia to be named among Thomson Reuters’ Hottest Researchers. While sizzling hot in the world of research, they are as cool as liquid nitrogen outside the lab, as Eileen Tan finds out

Prof David Lou

Vital stats At 37, he is one of the youngest full professors at NTU. At the School of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, he is researching how we power our phones and machinery through next-generation batteries and supercapacitors. Ranked eighth worldwide by Thomson Reuters, his research has been cited by other researchers about 7,500 times in the last year.

Stays in top form by walking.

Hot postgrad moment “Doing an experiment in the lab alone late at night.”

First hot flush of success “When my first paper got accepted in a good journal.”

Hot activity in his lab “We’re using nanoscale-sized materials to design high-performance batteries that can store more electricity. Think of them as turbocharged batteries that can be as small as you want them to be.”

Hot applications of his research “Our research may make it possible for your handphone to be charged in five minutes instead of an hour.”

Hottest thing about being a researcher “You’re always exploring something new, and that’s very satisfying.”

Hot tip for success “Work hard, try your best and persist.”

Prof Zhang Hua

Vital stats The 45-year-old professor is using molecule-sized machines and processes at the School of Materials Science & Engineering to transform the way we get power, light, clean water and even medical treatment. Ranked the world’s 12th Hottest Researcher, and also on last year’s list of Hottest Researchers, his research has been cited over 23,500 times.

Stays in top form by running and playing basketball.

Speaks like a scientist He shies away from sharing life tips because “what works for me may not work for someone else. We are all different and at different stages of our lives.”

What’s hot about NTU “Our beautiful campus, and excellent faculty, staff and students.”

Hot advice for students keen on a research career “Find an interesting area of research you wouldn’t mind spending really long hours on, read the latest literature on it, and pick a suitable research group to join.”

Hot career moment “That Eureka moment after months of painstaking research. You feel so excited and, of course, it’s great knowing your breakthrough will benefit society.”

Hottest thing about research “There’s never a dull moment if you have the passion for it.”

Advice for his son, who is in junior college “Explore your talents, pursue the areas that truly interest you, and exercise to keep your mind sharp.”

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PHOTOS: NURIA LING