Name, organization: Rupert Kargl, University of Maribor
Current position: Assistant Professor
Areas of expertise: Polysaccharides, chemical derivatization, surface properties, biomedical applications, nanofibers
Roles in FibreNet: principal investigator, supervisor of ESR 14
FibreNet is of significant interest because of its interdisciplinarity, the variety of the ESR research topics and the vast knowledge of the participating people that are from different scientific and technological backgrounds. Being a chemist of renewable resources by training, I was fascinated by the fact that FibreNet is able to combine the - at first sight - very distant research areas of electrical engineering, molecular modelling, life cycle assessment and composite science, with chemistry into one solid research concept. From that perspective, FibreNet offers the opportunity for all participants to become acquainted with new areas of research, whilst disseminating proprietary concepts within the consortium. This expands the combinatorial possibilities and chances for finding solutions to improve the sustainability and economic viability of biobased materials. In a similar manner, FibreNet gives the ESRs the opportunity to apply their own ideas during secondments and training events. It also exposes them to a variety of disciplines, which they would not encounter to that extend during a doctoral program with an unrelated single topic of their own.
Tell something about yourself, which other FibreNet people might not know yet:
If chemistry would not have caught me during the first winter term, I would be a very passionate historian in medieval and contemporary history.
What do you like most in your current work?
Working in natural science and research allows one to pursue a scientific concept from the initial stage of an idea, over the implementation of experiments, up to the analysis and exploitation of results. Since this is an exploratory endeavor that inherently bears the risk of failure due to potentially “wrong” concepts, one must adopt a certain attitude towards streamlining actions, accepting negative results, and reacting appropriately when necessary. What makes the work interesting is to combine seemingly random ideas, that arise during interaction with colleagues and scientific literature, with the attempt to prove (or disprove) predictions made before the experiment. In that sense, new ideas that arise by combining accepted facts and learned knowledge with some “flavor of chaos” are constantly and rigorously tested for their reliability in a controlled laboratory setting. Combining chaos with a sense of order is a work that can be quite satisfying.
What are the three most important things in your current job?