We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.
Name: Yuanmin Zhang
Job title: 2nd year DPhil student, Biophysics
What are you currently working on?
My current project aims to develop a coating for neural electrodes in particular for a type known as tetrode, with the goal of improving its biocompatibility and enhancing its performance. I use atomic force microscopy (AFM) and cyclic voltammetry (CV) as the primary tools to characterise the polymer material in terms of its morphology and electrochemical properties. In addition to its in vivo applicability, I would also like to investigate the interactions occurring at the interface in the future, for example, determining what is measured at the electrode and how neurons interact with substrates of varying softness.
Describe a typical day
I live in Jesus College accommodation, located in central Oxford. Normally, I have my breakfast either in my accommodation kitchen or in the college hall before walking to the office. My work usually begins with handling emails and replies, followed by creating a to-do list for the day. If I have experiments related to AFM or cells, my entire day will be in the basement of the Beecroft building. If I am doing the electrochemistry experiments, then it will take place in the Rodney Porter building.
For my lunch, I really like the Japanese food truck near the Maths Institute – soup udon is my favourite. Alternatively, I might visit the café in the new Biochemistry building or grab a sandwich in Taylors. My working hours vary depending on my tasks, sometimes wrapping up around 4 or 5 pm, and other times extending to 7 or 8 pm. Because of this, I prefer to keep my schedule flexible to accommodate any changes. I also get involved in other initiatives where I can so last month for example, I helped out with the UNIQ summer school in the Department of Physics; I did a tutoring session and gave a talk and it was fantastic to see how engaged and enthusiastic the students were.
If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
I hope that day could be a rainy day as I like the sound of raindrops tapping on the window. With that, I can sleep until mid-morning, then prepare a nice lunch for myself. Accompanied by a good book or movie would make the day even better!
What is your favourite place in Oxford?
There is a passage next to the Lamb and Flag which is a shortcut from the main road to the physics department. I love it, especially during the summer when the leaves from the trees overhead cover the sky of the passage.
What discovery would you like to see in your lifetime?
Just last week, the room temperature pressure (rtp) superconductor arouses quite a lot of discussions. At the time of writing, there weren't any conclusive results on replicating this material however, it would be really fascinating to see the discovery of an rtp superconductor in my lifetime.