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Interview: Kenji Okada Sol-Gel2015 Best Poster Awardee

The community

Dr. Kenji Okada, one of the four awardees as the best poster presentation in the last Sol-Gel 2015 in Kyoto. Dr. Okada received his PhD in Material Science for a study on “metal hydroxide nanomaterials for functional interfacial applications” from Osaka Prefecture University in 2014 with a 2.5-year accelerated promotion under the supervision of Prof. Masahide Takahashi. He won a postdoctoral fellowship from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS PD) from 2014 to 2015. During his JSPS PD, he worked on a non-hydrolytic sol-gel in a Prof. Hubert Mutin’s group (Montpellier University, France) for a year. In 2015, he was appointed as an assistant professor at Osaka University where he is working on metal hydroxide nanomaterials for energy applications. He has been awarded 9 academic prizes including the best poster award at Sol-Gel 2015 in Kyoto.

We asked Dr. Okada to give his opinion about the sol-gel science and the future of our community.



- You have a background in the field of Materials Science and Engineering. Was it difficult for you to approach the Sol-Gel Chemistry?

No. Sol-gel is a very useful approach in order to obtain metal oxides with well-defined nano/micro structures, chemical composition and surface state by a simple and environmentally-friend method. We do not need specific equipments to start up sol-gel chemistry. In addition, precursors used in sol-gel method is basically not expensive. From these points, it was so easy to approach the Sol-Gel Chemistry.

- When did you realize you wanted to work in the field of research?

When I started my research in my master course, I enjoyed all the time to prepare and characterize materials. I also enjoyed to think and discuss with supervisors and other researchers about obtained results. Especially, when we could make unexpected or unusual results clear, I was so happy and excited. At the moment, I felt I wanted to be a researcher.

- What is the most exciting part of your job and what would you like to change?

The most exciting part is that we can find new things and prepare new materials by ourselves. I would like to be a trusted supervisor who can lead all the group members to become talented researchers.

- As assistant professor, is it difficult to mentor young students? How does your research influence your mentoring and teaching activities?

It is not so difficult for me. I think if we can build a relationship of trust with all the students, it would be easier to motivate them to work on a research with passion. I feel the good relationship is much more important than teaching and mentoring techniques. I can mentor them based on my experience in my research filed.

- What do you like more in the sol-gel community?

All the researchers are so open and friendly. For example, in a sol-gel conference in Kyoto last time, I had so many chances to discuss about researches and everybody open their heart wide and had a great passion to discuss. Additionally, every night I had a great dinner with many nice guys. The atmosphere in the community of sol-gel society is always fantastic.

- What are the perspectives and goals of your research activities and your career?

I do not want to set goals in my research and career. But what I want is to enjoy science in my life and reward to the community.

- Do you have any suggestions or advices for students who are approaching now for the first time the sol-gel chemistry?

Sol-gel chemistry is not so difficult and the method is very useful. Just try to prepare something by sol-gel method, feel something and observe them very well. After that, please think and consider the results based on sol-gel science. Do not be afraid of unexpected results.

Thank you very much Dr. Okada, good luck for your research!

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