Report about research stay by Ping Li
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why do you want to be scientist?
I am Ping Li from Sichuan, China, a PhD student from the Hainan university. I will spend one year at the institute of Geology and Geochemistry of Petroleum and Coal in RWTH Aachen University. My research stay is funded by the Chinese government scholarship. In Aachen, I am supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Schwarzbauer and Dr. Larissa Dsikowitzky in the laboratory for organic-geochemical analysis.
I am deeply grateful for my Chinese supervisor, Prof. Xiaoping Diao. She is one of the most important person who encourage me to become a scientist. Prof. Diao is engaged in education and scientific research, and she is always full of energy and passion in the research work. Under her influence and encouragement, I become more and more interested in the scientific work. Moreover, the procedure of research work is really interesting, such as setup a research project, field work, lab work and data analysis. I can learn more and more about the nature and science. Finally, research production like publishing papers leaves me with a sense of achievement.
2) Can you tell us a bit about your work at the Hainan University, China?
My work at the Hainan University is about the chemical contamination in coastal ecosystem in Hainan and its effect on the community and abundance of microorganisms, especially microbes of the nitrogen cycle.
3) Why did you decide to travel to Germany? Why did you choose the RWTH Aachen?
Firstly, Germany is one of the global leaders in science and technology as its achievements have been significant, especially in the fields of physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine. What’s more, Germany is a friendly country with strong international responsibility. Germany attracts a lot of students all over the world.
I feel grateful that I can be one of the members working on the ECOLOC project between Germany and China. This international project lays the important foundation for my study in Germany, at the RWTH Aachen. RWTH Aachen is one of the best universities in Germany in the fields of engineering (especially mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering). Therefore, it is really a good choice for me to study technologies and continue my work.
4) What exactly have you done at the RWTH Aachen?
My research work at RWTH Aachen is training on chemical contamination in coastal ecosystems comprising GC/MS and LC/MS based analyses of water and sediment samples for identification and quantification of organic contaminants on ultra-trace level and in-depth interpretation in terms of risk assessment. Up to now, I have learned the sample pretreatment methods and none-target pollutants analysing technology and methods based on GC, GC/MS. I have already analysed several sediment samples taken from Hainan coastal area, and then start to learn the data analysis method.
5) What troubles did you have preparing your research stay abroad?
As far as I am concerned, finding an apartment to live in Aachen before I leave for Germany was a big trouble.
6) Do you have any advice for students who are considering a research stay in Germany?
I think it is better if you got a scholarship to support you to study abroad. And then keep in touch with your friends or colleagues who already stayed abroad. They will give you useful information or suggestions. Language is also important for studying abroad.
7) What surprised you about life in Germany?
Actually, there are a lot of things and people in Germany making me surprised and impressed. Firstly, Germans are very kindhearted. Since I came to Germany, I received a great deal of help from different strangers. For example, when I flied from China to Düsseldorf, a very kindly German next to me gave me a lot of suggestions about living in Germany. When I got off the flight, he told me where to take my luggage and helped me a lot. Secondly, the environment in Germany is really good, e.g. blue sky, fresh air and clean street. And the style of architecture is really different from China, which surprised and excited me. Oh, the Christmas Market is amazing. I really love my stay in RWTH Aachen, not only because of their advance technology and scientific level, but also because of the people in our institute. They are very kind and friendly. I really feel relaxed and happy there.
8) What are your plans for the future?
I plan to go back to China after finishing my study at the RWTH Aachen, and may graduate in May 2018. Then I will continue my research work on microorganisms and environmental pollution in the future.
Finally, I believe that the technologies and methods I am learning in RWTH Aachen can be used in my country. I also hope that my research and time spend here will enhance the corporation between our two laboratories – the laboratory for organic-geochemical analysis in RWTH Aachen and the laboratory of environmental toxicology in Hainan University.