Q&A with Mita Dasog – Celebrating Canadians in the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists

In our ongoing series celebrating IYPT2019 and IUPAC100, we are featuring outstanding members of the Canadian chemistry community who have been selected for IUPAC’s Periodic Table of Younger Chemists. Next in our Q&A series is Mita Dasog (silicon, Si), an assistant professor at Dalhousie University whose research focuses on the development of nanomaterials for applications in solar light absorption, catalytic generation of solar fuels, and plasmonics.

Why chemistry?
Chemistry is known as the “central science” because it lies at the intersection of so many other fields. This allows me to work on so many topics. It is also has such a huge impact on our day-to-day lives.

What excites you most about your work?
The thrill of discovery is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Each new bit of knowledge is like a puzzle piece that contributes to the full picture.

How has being in Canada helped shape your chemistry career?
Canada has a tight-knit community. Attending the CSC’s annual conference and regional undergrad conferences helped me build connections and find mentors who have advised me along the way. Canadian scholarships and grants have allowed me to travel outside of Canada and build international collaborations as well.

Do your activities extend beyond the usual bounds of chemistry?
Most definitely. Our lab has recently delved into the plasmonics field, which is pretty new and exciting for us. It is also a very interdisciplinary area, and I will need to work closely with physicists to fully understand the behaviour of plasmonics and engineers to incorporate our materials into devices. We also do quite a few outreach activities. I am involved with the organization, Techsploration, who focus on empowering young women especially in the rural communities. Last year I participated in the Soapbox Science event. We also plan activities and host high school students for Discover Chemistry Days, SHAD program, and National Chemistry week (also for general public).

Have you ever received advice that you’d like to pass on to other young chemists?
I would always encourage students to look for jobs beyond the traditional academic/industrial divide. Communications, policy, and intellectual property rights are all areas that individuals with chemistry degrees can contribute to. Also, chemistry is constantly evolving; for example, artificial intelligence is now impacting the way our labs operate. I think it is important to be aware of these changes and adapt accordingly.

In celebration of IYPT 2019, do you have a favourite memory or fact about the periodic table?
I show random chemistry and periodic table facts at the beginning of my class when I teach first-year chemistry. My favorite random fact is that the letter “J” never appears on the periodic table.