Dr Fan Fei – Senior Scientist
What was the most profound scientific experience in your career?
The most profound scientific experience in my career may be difficult to exemplify with a specific experiment. It is more of my determination to take scientific research as my lifelong career and persistence towards my original aspiration. From the initial exposure to materials science as an undergraduate, to the research of membrane separations as a PhD student, to joining Evove three years ago to fulfil the transformation from scientific research to product development, it is a coexistence of success and failure, a combination of applause and sweat, and a process of continued accumulation and improvement. If I had to give an example, it may be when every time I received the expected and unexpected experimental results.
Who inspired you to a career as a scientist?
My father, a materials scientist, and my mother, an experimental physicist, are my role models. I can still remember going to my parents’ lab when I was a kid. I was amazed by every unexpected phenomenon always trying to understand why. Maybe it was at that time that the seeds of curiosity were planted. After that, everything seems to follow a logical train. I chose science and engineering in high school, and material science as my degree in undergraduate. I came to the University of Manchester for my PhD. It was when I met the third person in my life who inspired me as a scientist, my supervisor and mentor Dr Christopher Blanford. It was him who taught me to be rigorous in scientific research, ranging from the estimation of significant figures in data processing to the necessity to consider from multiple perspectives when using data to verify hypotheses. He also influenced my humble attitude towards scientific research.
What is life like in the UK?
Compared to my home country China, the UK is very different in many aspects. Perhaps because of more developed economy and society, people here in the UK are calmer and pay more attention to the balance between work and life. Most people have hobbies that they can do really well. One of the greatest things about living in the UK is that there are countless museums, galleries and concerts. Although it’s raining a lot in the UK, the warm and humid climate and more mature environmental protection concepts brings about a more benign environment for nature to thrive.
What do you miss most about China?
First of all it is my family far away in China that I miss most. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been back to China for more than three years. I hope the pandemic will be over soon and the world will return to its previous normal state. The second thing I miss most is Chinese food, especially the food made by my mother. Living in China for 26 years has created my nostalgia and a Chinese stomach, which may not be changed by however much fish and chips I enjoy.
How do you spend your free time?
I love reading, music, sports and gardening. I like to read science technology and social science books. I love classical music, especially symphonies from the Classical and the Romantic periods. When I was in China, my favourite sport was basketball. My favourite sport in the UK is long-distance running. Since the pandemic, I’ve gradually acquired a new hobby of gardening. I like to fill the front garden with flowering perennials and allocate the back garden for vegetables and fruits. My goal of this year is to harvest aubergines and figs.
What trend in society is most interesting to you?
Although the risk of political polarisation is still high and regional conflicts continue, the general global trend is to seek common ground while reserving differences and achieve win-win cooperation. An interesting movement is the continued growth of the green economy powered by new materials and new energy, from both developed and developing countries attaching great importance to environmental protection and sustainable development. People are reaching a consensus that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, and building a community with a shared future for mankind is a historical necessity.
Anything else you would like to share?
There are two seemingly diametrically opposed views on the future direction of mankind. One view is that the journey of mankind is the sea of stars. The successful Mars exploration missions by UAE, China, and USA last year, the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope last Christmas, and SpaceX’s continuously lowering launch costs, are all milestones in human exploration of space. Another newer view is that the journey of mankind is virtual reality. Metaverse, which has been attracting a lot of attention lately, seems to be turning the sci-fi movies into reality. In fact, whether it is the sea of stars or virtual reality, human beings are constantly expanding the boundaries of the universe, science, philosophy, and self.