Dr. Esma Kurban

Country: Turkey
Post-Doctoral Researcher from 
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Polytechnic University of Milan (Polimi)

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?

I have always been fascinated by science and dreamed of contributing to making progress in understanding the complexity of nature. Since my childhood, I have been especially interested in mathematics and physics. In my early career, I chose to be an engineer, but while studying for my bachelor's degree, I realized that I enjoy asking more fundamental questions in nature and decided to develop an academic research career.

2-  Give an overview of your professional path.

I obtained my bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering and earthquake engineering, respectively. During my master's research, I worked on generating simulations of dynamic behaviour of granular particles and became very interested in the physics and mechanics of granular materials having unique characteristics and are of great interest in the industry. In my PhD, I focused on understanding the role of particle shape in the packing behaviour of granular matter and searching for novel dense packing shapes using machine learning methods. In SSLiP Project, I'm currently investigating the effects of several individual particle properties on the dynamics of granular materials by numerical simulations.

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

As a postdoctoral fellow, my main task is to conduct research, discuss the results with my collaborators, write scientific papers, and present them at conferences.

4-  What do you find the most rewarding in your job? What do you find the most challenging in your job?

I think the most rewarding part of doing research in academia is having the freedom to work on the topics that one is curious about and want to discover something new. And observing to make some progress in achieving this every day is the exciting part. The difficulty of being a researcher in academia comes from finding a permanent position and funding for research. For example, I will probably need to do a couple of Postdocs in different countries before settling in somewhere.

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

I am in the granular mechanics team. My role in the SSLiP project is to perform molecular dynamics simulations to develop an understanding of the restructuring of the network of superlubric contacts. I am investigating the effect of particle properties on the dynamic behaviour of superlubric particles in MD simulations. The SSLiP project is a great opportunity to collaborate with several experts in different fields of theory to experiment, and this research will greatly impact industrial applications. My previous research work was more on the theoretical side, and I believe I will learn a lot about the applications of it in our daily life thanks to the SSLiP project.