Spotlight on Young Researchers: Pit Losch

 

Passion and competitiveness is at the heart of being a researcher for Pit Losch, who describes life in research as a rollercoaster ride. The Luxembourg national, who completed his AFR PhD at the University of Strasbourg, is currently a Postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, where he investigates and shapes materials for the future. We spoke to Pit about his life as a scientist.

Why did you decide to become a researcher?

“During my B.Sc. internship in biochemistry, I fell in love with this world, where passion, and an ounce of competitiveness, are key to willingly ‘survive’ long working shifts. Later experiences only confirmed this initial attraction – life in research is living on a rollercoaster, it makes you permanently discover and experience new ‘ups’, but also low ‘downs’.”

Tell us about your work, what is your research about?

“During my PhD at Strasbourg University, I had the chance to work on a variety of topics, all related to a special type of (nano-) materials.

“We designed porous (cheap) aluminosilicates, zeolites as heterogeneous catalysts. In heterogeneously catalysed chemical transformations, the purpose of using such materials is to lower the energy consumption to form a benign or valuable product B, from a hazardous or cheap product A.

“Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, where I continue to investigate and attempt to shape materials for the future.”

What is a typical day like for you as a Postdoc?

“A typical day is composed of 70% office work, such as reading and writing publications, preparing conferences, and preparing experiments etc. About 30% of my day consists of laboratory work including for example experiments and analyses, as well as irregularly supervising undergraduate or PhD students.”

You’re a Luxembourg national abroad, what do you think about how Luxembourg’s research landscape is developing?

“I am proud to be a Luxembourger, and I have always advertised my home country’s evolving R&D abroad. However, in my opinion, the research topics are still limited, and thus I had to get my higher education and first experience abroad.

“The latter restriction was in fact the best thing that could ever have happened to me: seeing the world, meeting and collaborating with people from all over the world – from Brazil to China and South-Africa to Norway – was overwhelmingly enriching.

“Obviously my long-term plan is to eventually bring all of the acquired knowledge to Luxembourg. I would like to be able to combine the benefits offered by our multicultural and multilingual country with the experience and passion I acquired abroad, in order to perform fundamental and applied research.”

Last but not least, what would you like to achieve during your career in research?

“Stay passionate! If I lose my passion, I will quit and do something else.”

“All of the scientific interactions I had the chance to get at conferences taught me that science can (and should) be combined with beauty, if science wants to be heard. Beauty is universal and eases communication. In this perspective, I was closely interacting with my brother, who has an ”artistic gene”, and who helped me to present results or ideas in different ways. This image shows an artistic view of molecules diffusing in and out of zeolites”
“This image shows an artistic view of the continuous improvement approach to obtain an optimal catalyst”

More information

Pit Losch was also featured in the 2016 FNR Annual Report as a success story for the AFR programme – find out more about Pit and his PhD project


Published Thursday, 22 June 2017

Pit Losch at his PhD defence

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the 16th in a series of around 25 articles, which will be published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Towards predicting ageing-related diseases

A rapid increase in both life expectancy and global population size has led to a rise in the prevalence of chronic ageing-associated diseases. Brain and heart age-associated diseases including hypertension, stroke, heart failure, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide. Researchers are working on much-needed ways to predict these diseases.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Are you what you eat?

Cardiometabolic complications threaten health and reduce life expectancy. In Luxembourg, 1 in 3 people have metabolic syndrome, as a risk factor for cardiometabolic complications such as obesity, high blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as hypertension. Science has shown a link between what we eat and our health – nutritionists are now investigating how dietary strategies could prevent these health complications.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: AI for ethical and legal debates

Looking at popular culture, big tech and ongoing societal debates – technological progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) affects us all. Researchers from numerous scientific fields are working on the best way to bring AI forward, including the study of systems able to autonomously reason over arguments – calculators for philosophical, ethical or legal debates.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: How is scientific quality fostered by research collaboration?

In the last decades, how research is conducted has been profoundly changed by ICT, and there has also been a shift from the ‘sole genius’ towards teamwork and especially interdisciplinarity: Today, millions of researchers worldwide collaborate across organisational, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries, extending the possibilities of new scientific discovery. This, and the associated data, has paved the way for the scientific field Science of Science, where one key question is understanding exactly how scientific quality is fostered by research collaboration.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Turning up the heat on solar absorbers

Using solar absorbers for collection and storage of heat from the sun is an environmentally friendly way to generate heat, yet only 16% of heating is generated from renewable energy. Material scientists are looking for ways to boost this number by making the solar absorber coatings more efficient.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramping up carbohydrates production

Carbs are all around us: a major constituent in food, they also play a role in many biological processes such as intercellular communication; they are in demand in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are currently used as anticoagulants and in skincare. With the goal of no longer having to rely solely on nature’s production of carbs, scientists have been working on ways to ramp up production. A case for chemistry!

Spotlight on Young Researchers: The role a gene plays in neurodegeneration and cancer

Neurogenerative diseases and cancer affect millions of people worldwide, especially people over 60. While advances in diagnosis and treatment have been made, there are still many open questions on the path to better treatment and earlier diagnosis. Translational neuroscientist Pauline Mencke studies a gene that is involved both in Parkinson’s disease and the brain cancer Glioblastoma multiforme.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Empowering critical digital humanities practice

Digitisation has had a significant impact on humanities research: not only has it changed how many scholars conduct their research, it has also led to completely new fields of research, such as digital humanities, a highly interdisciplinary science. Linguist Lorella Viola is interested in how software can enable critical digital humanities practice.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: A gas sensor powered by natural light

Many of the things we furnish our homes and office with emit gases that we are oblivious to inhaling. As eliminating these items from our lives is unrealistic, science wants to understand that which we cannot eliminate, thus more effective sensors are needed. Material scientist Rutuja Bhusari combines materials at nanoscale to create a gas sensor powered by nature.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: A hazelnut quality forecasting system

Can we predict the likelihood of a hazelnut tree becoming sick? Or what quality defects, and in what percentage, will be present in the final harvest? Science could soon make this possible, thanks to a hazelnut quality forecasting system based on a combination of machine learning and simulation models.

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