Carol Hua

What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am currently an American-Australian Dow Chemical Company, and a Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellow, at Northwestern University in the United States. My project here involves the design and synthesis of multidimensional porous networks (nanomaterials) that exhibit magnetic properties at high temperatures. A particularly interesting aspect is the ability to turn the magnetic properties of the materials “on” or “off” in response to an external stimulus.  

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
I completed a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at UNSW, where I undertook my honours project under the supervision of Prof. Barbara Messerle on the development of rhodium, iridium and ruthenium hydroamination catalysts containing N,N’-donor ligands. I really enjoyed research, so I went on to complete a PhD at the University of Sydney working on the development of multifunctional materials containing triarylamines under the supervision of A/Prof Deanna D’Alessandro. After my PhD, I undertook a short postdoctoral position at the University of Sydney before moving to a postdoctoral research position at the University of Limerick, Ireland. I started my position at Northwestern University in May this year.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
This would definitely have to be moving from Australia to Ireland, and then the United States within a year and having to adjust to the different work environment and culture in each place.

What achievement are you most proud of?
I was honoured to be awarded the Cornforth medal in 2016 for the best PhD thesis in the chemical sciences in Australia, as well as being awarded two postdoctoral fellowships which have enabled me to conduct research overseas.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
Resilience, persistence and an awareness that there is always more to learn and discover. There are many days (or even weeks and months) in research where things will not work or go as expected – it takes persistence and resilience to continue forward during these times.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
Being in chemical research, all the cumulative experimental, technical and critical thinking skills I have learnt throughout my undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral studies are constantly used in my current role.

What are your interests outside of work?
I really enjoy reading, experimenting in the kitchen and travelling – there are still so many places in the world that I would love to see!

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
Setting a routine and sticking to it. I try to ensure that I have one day off each week from work where I don’t think about work at all (this doesn’t always happen though). On weekdays, I take an hour out of my day to exercise which helps me to maintain a healthy mind set, manage stress and keep things in perspective.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
If you are interested in working in research, try to spend time with a research group, observing research students, and take every opportunity to get some hands-on experience (summer scholarships are a great option). In general, find what you enjoy in science and pursue that – your curiosity and passion will be greatly enhanced by working in an area that you are genuinely interested in.

Return to 100 Faces of Chemistry