INSPIRE Grant Report by PhD Student Anja Förster - Michigan State University

My stay at the Michigan State University: From the ‘Birthplace of Volleyball’ to the ‘Windy City’

Published on in NEWS

The Inspire Grant gave me the opportunity to spend three eventful and scientifically fruitful months in the group of Prof. David Tománek at the Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing. Three days after my arrival the whole group went on a road trip to South Hadley, known as the ‘Birthplace of Volleyball’. The cause of our trip was not a sport competition but rather the Gordon Research Conference on 2-dimensional (2D) materials beyond graphene. This gave me the chance to present my latest findings to a wide audience of experts on 2D materials. Prof. Gotthard Seifert, my doctoral adviser, also attended the conference. We used the opportunity to together work out a working plan for my stay.

It was agreed that I would focus on the 2D material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). In literature there are contradictory experimental reports on the reaction between MoS2 and thiols. Not only was I able to shed light on the chemical process and therefore resolve the disagreeing reports, but I can also add another quantum chemical program to my repertoire.

I very much enjoyed to stay in a research group where the “number of students fluctuates between two and twenty.” While unfamiliar at the beginning, the weekly group meetings soon became a part of the scientific life. My three Chinese colleagues also gave me a very interesting insight into the Chinese (university) culture. An unusual insight into the American lifestyle was given to me when a summer storm caused a power outage during the middle of my stay. (We know why our electricity cables are below the ground in Germany.) But overall the weather was great, the scientific results were even better and the people (especially the bus drivers) here were all friendly, welcoming and very polite.

After three months of conducting research, I spent my final weekend in the windy city Chicago. Opposed to East Lansing, which felt slightly sleepy due to the summer break of the university, Chicago felt very alive even if one had to wait in line for about one hour before one could enter any of the local attractions like the Shedd Aquarium.

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