Dr. Zahra Gholamvand

Nationality: Iran/Ireland
Research Fellow, 
School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

1- When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in a science and technology field? What were your motivations to make this decision?

From a young age, I developed a keen interest in physical and natural phenomena. My father played a significant role in nurturing this curiosity by providing me with kids' science magazines and books. Looking back on my childhood as a material scientist, it's quite intriguing how I found myself fascinated by various materials like rocks, gems, plants, metals, plastics, glues, and dough. I used to take pleasure in observing their behaviors and properties, engaging all five of my senses in the process. It feels like my passion for material science was not a conscious decision; rather, I simply followed my instincts and trusted my senses to lead me towards this rewarding career path.

2-  Give an overview of your professional path.

I hold a bachelor's degree in Material Science (Metallurgy) and a master's in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. In 2020, I was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie fellowship, which took me from Iran to Ireland to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical physics of materials, focusing on advanced nanomaterials for water purification through photocatalysis. After that, I joined Trinity College Dublin and became part of a world-leading group, concentrating on graphene and other 2D materials for energy production and storage. Since then, I have actively participated in various European projects centered around 2D materials and nano-microstructured surfaces for diverse applications.

3-  Provide a short overview of your job. What are your main responsibilities?

Within the SSLIP project, I am an essential member of the synthesis teams, focusing on the synthesis and characterization of 2D materials. My responsibilities involve exploring the optimal forms of Graphene and other 2D materials and devising efficient configurations when combined with micro and nanostructured surfaces and tribocolloids to achieve SSLiPs superlubricity target. Additionally, I contribute to project management by assisting with project dissemination and communication activities, as well as data management and reporting tasks.

4-  What do you find the most rewarding in your job? What do you find the most challenging in your job?
I have transitioned between academia and industry several times throughout my career. The most fulfilling aspect of working in academia is the wide range of subjects I engage with and the constant stream of new challenges I encounter. This environment pushes me to continually develop my personal and scientific skills, fostering a creative and problem-solving mindset. However, in industry and certain corporate jobs, I found myself missing this aspect of continuous growth and diversity. On the other hand, the challenging side of academia lies in its inherent job insecurity, as projects are often defined for limited durations. This necessitates dedicating significant time to writing research grants, proposals, and negotiating with funding agencies.

5- What is your role within the SSLiP project? How do you expect your work in SSLiP project to contribute to your career development?

In SSLIP, my primary role involves leading research activities focused on the synthesis and characterization of 2D materials and superlubricious elements. While I had prior experience in both 2D materials and nano-microstructured surfaces, my involvement in SSLIP has expanded my knowledge in tribology, contact mechanics, and industrial lubrication technologies. This project has exposed me to a myriad of new challenges, particularly concerning lubrication in solid and oil-based systems, pushing me to develop innovative solutions in this field.