The chemist Rui Chen joined Freie Universität Berlin as a Rising Star Research fellow in April 2022. She is working in the group of Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag at the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her research focuses on developing bioinspired dynamic hydrogels for antiviral applications.
Rui is trying to develop a mucus mimicking dynamic hydrogel with precisely tunable rheological property. She intends to characterize the complex interaction and diffusional behavior of an inactive SARS-CoV-2 virus within that developed dynamic hydrogel. The study could be useful for developing artificial mucus mimic.
She will be collaborating with the co-host research group (Prof. Dr. Stephan Sigrist, Institute of Biology) to use the STED expertise for capturing the interplay of dynamic gel formation process and dynamic morphology of the gel networks upon light-regulated crosslinking by exploiting the tunable focal spot size as well as the fast-imaging speed of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy.
Rui completed her BSc in Chemistry from Jilin University, China and then pursued an MSc degree in Natural Science in Chemistry and Physics of Polymers at Xiamen University, China. Thereafter, she went on to complete her PhD in Molecular Sciences from the Department of Chemical Sciences at the University of Padova, Italy. Her PhD thesis was on the spatiotemporal activation of a supramolecular system in hydrogel, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Leonard Jan Prins. She continued as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the same group where she developed non-equilibrium soft materials with life-like properties before moving to Freie Universität Berlin.“I immediately felt the support both from the administrative team and the research platform, which allowed me to start my project shortly. I am lucky to work in the new research center SupraFAB, where researchers and graduate students from different disciplinary and background are working together and communicate frequently.
People are very active to share the scientific knowledges and expertise during all kinds of meetings, symposiums, workshop etc. The friendly and collaborative environment brings different perspectives to the research and can efficiently move the project forward together.
Joining all kinds of scientific meeting has become an integral part of my daily work routine. It allows me to discuss my own research findings in front of people from different backgrounds and also listen to others. It significantly improved my communication skills and the ability to network with people.
Compared to my previous research experiences, the biggest opportunity I see here is the infrastructural facilities and collaborative environment. We can easily get the chance to communicate to researchers from different university within and outside of Germany. This also offers us the higher chance to know more research groups and companies, which may be beneficial to us for future career.
Berlin is also such an international city. It is full of all kinds of delicious food from all over the world, arts and entertainment. I have been enjoying living here to make friends with interesting people, experience new things. It’s a fantastic adventure.”