Azza Ben Akacha
I found the activities in Materials Chemistry at FSU highly diverse and rich. Areas of research are very interdisciplinary, where one could learn about new concepts and develop expertise in various experimental techniques that cover concepts involving chemistry, physics, and engineering. I should also mention that the proximity of the National High Magnetic Laboratory is attractive.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
I was interested in STEM subjects since elementary school. I used to love science and math classes. Moreover, my dad is an organic chemistry professor, and his research focus is organophosphorus chemistry. I think this exposed me to science from a young age, and I was fascinated by research and chemistry. During my undergrad, I was more interested in inorganic chemistry, and I chose to pursue a PhD in materials/inorganic chemistry. Being in graduate school is exciting because you are learning something new every day.
Importance of research and work
Electronic devices contribute on many levels to our everyday life activities (phones, computers, etc.). Thus, making more efficient devices is of high interest. My research focuses on the development and synthesis of functional materials. These materials display interesting chemical and physical properties making them potential candidates for electronics and energy devices. Applications of my research are numerous, namely Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). In our lab, we make the materials first and then develop devices.
I still have more time to think about my future career. I want to work somewhere where I will be in connection with science, technology, and education.
Advice for prospective graduate students
My advice for prospective graduate students is to choose something that you love. In addition to that, perseverance and resilience are the keys to a successful graduate school experience. It’s also very healthy, during grad school, to take a step back occasionally and enjoy your achievements and small steps toward your goal.
Accomplishments during graduate school
I am part of the Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee (GSSPC FSU), and we are planning a one-day symposium about photochemistry honoring Michael Kasha for chemistry national meeting, fall 2021 in Atlanta. I am a social media officer at the FSU Graduate Women in STEM (GWIS); we constantly work on organizing events such as our annual ‘’art in STEM’’ exhibition. It was also great to help mentor talented high school students during their internship within the FSU Young Scholars Program. I am trying to help Tunisian students be exposed to opportunities offered here. In 2018, I gave a virtual presentation at the U.S. embassy in Tunisia on how to apply to grad school, and I shared my experience at FSU. I also represented my country Tunisia for the first time at the FSU international bazaar event last year.