There is beauty all around – these are five words that resonate within our daily lives, even though at times we need to delve a little deeper to find it. Currently a Master’s student in Chemistry at Concordia University, I enjoy discovering new boundaries for metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) and learning on a daily basis. My interest in the field of MOFs began during my time as an undergraduate student where I was a research assistant in the Howarth research group. Since then I have been working towards a career in this field. MOFs, comprised of organic and inorganic building blocks, are fascinating porous and often crystalline materials with a large range of possible combinations (metals and organic linkers), structural diversity (size, structure, and topology), and chemical properties that can be tailored for a given application of interest.
Bridging science with art is an empowering combination that captures both emotions and intellect, giving people an opportunity to appreciate the beauty within the complexity of science. The unique structure in my ChemiSTEAM image – analogous to a rose – highlights the imperfections in a MOF. Contrary to the expected smooth outcome, the crystallization process gave rise to textured MOF layers that correlate to an irregular morphology which can be appreciated in many ways, as there can be key findings to take away from it. Originally captured by scanning electron microscopy technology in neutral colours of black and white, this crystallite was then colourized with the colours of a rainbow, inspired by the “ça va bien aller / it’s going to be okay” slogan. Each colour represents a distinct attribute, where the prominent colours of green and orange are symbolic for growth, strength and determination, reminding us to persevere through difficult situations.
On a personal level, each petal of the MOF rose is representative of another day at the research lab, trying new reactions, failing and withering away, succeeding and blooming in full, and pursuing new challenges. This image reminds me to be curious about why experiments do not yield the expected results, instead of simply accepting it. With regards to graduate school, this image reminds me that imperfect days are just as much a part of the journey, which help me progress and be even more driven to succeed. A big thank you goes out to my research supervisor, Ashlee J. Howarth, whose guidance and optimism make all the difference.
Thank you to the organizers of ChemiSTEAM, Louise Dawe, Vance Williams, and Brian Wagner, and to Claire Duncan and Allison Kerns from the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC). I am honoured to have been selected to be a contributor to this series of posts.