Lukman Solola, PhD Student in Penn Chemistry & Fontaine Fellow, talks about his research interests.


Lukman Solola: My name is Lukman Solola. I am in the chemistry program at Penn and I'm a fourth year student. In my lab we have different programs or different research interests. Some of it has to do with the recycling of lanthanides. Most of the supply of lanthanides that we have in the US or around the world comes from China. Those metals are very important. They're used in [inaudible 00:00:28], in your cell phone for example, and they are also used in magnets. But because these metals occur together, they are not very easy to separate and the way that those metals are separated, is not environmentally friendly. So, we are working on environmentally friendly options of actually separating out these metals and actually recycling them.

The department as a whole, tries to foster an environment where like the work is more interdisciplinary in nature. So, there's this energy cluster that's been built here at Penn now that is going to take expertise from different fields, chemistry, from the material science and I think, I would think people from physics too are going to be involved in it. So, I think that's the way science is going now. You can't just have a set in stone field where you just say it's inorganic chemistry or biology or chemistry. You need a synergy between those fields to do the best science I think, in my opinion.

I'm a member of the Fountain Society. The Fountain Society is a great platform for interacting and networking, getting to know what other people in the school do, learn about their research, making friends actually. So, it's quite nice. I'm involved in that. We also have a soccer team which I am a part of. I'm not very good at soccer but I haven't played in a year. It's okay.

I would say know or enjoy doing research if you want to pursue a PhD because I mean, it's interesting when you make discoveries but it's not always, it doesn't always happen like that. It's always a grind. You can go a long time without discovering anything. But, you always want to know that you love what you are doing even if it looks bad. And I guess that's the only thing that can keep you going in your PhD career. Just enjoying what you do. Enjoying research for what it is.