Author Profile: Ram Seshadri

Ram Seshadri explains why it was love at first sight with solid state materials.

Ram SeshadriSeshadri is a professor of Materials and a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received his BS degree in chemistry from St. Stephens College, Delhi, in 1989, and his PhD degree in solid state chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1995. After some years as a postdoctoral fellow in Caen, France, and Mainz, Germany, he started a faculty career as an assistant professor in Bangalore in 1999, before moving to UCSB in 2002. Seshadri’s research program addresses structure-composition-property relations in functional inorganic materials, focusing currently on magnetic and correlated materials, catalysts, and phosphors.

1.      Which research projects are you working on at the moment?
This is an exciting time in our research. We continue to look at magnetic properties of oxides, and have added intermetallics to the list of materials. We also have an active and continuing program in phosphors for solid state lighting, and materials for heterogeneous catalysis. Newer avenues include thermoelectrics and batteries.

2.      What motivated you to focus on functional solid state materials?
Love at first sight. I started researching the chemistry and physics of solids — specifically carrying our redox titrations of high-temperature copper oxide superconductors — under the guidance of Professor C. N. R. Rao FRS, whilst an undergraduate, and I continue to be both fascinated and ignorant in the area. I will quit researching solids when I understand them, which is likely never!

3.      What are the hot topics in materials chemistry at the moment?
Materials for processes related to energy conversion and energy efficiency.

4.      What current problem would you like to see science provide a solution to?
I would love to see an understanding of high-temperature superconductors.

5.      What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Working with smart students at a great institution (UC Santa Barbara).

6.      What’s the secret to being a successful scientist?
I wish I knew. I do know how to be a happy scientist – work on things you don’t understand, but wish to.

7.      Which scientist past or present do you most admire?
Helen Megaw (1907-2002). Everything I do traces back to her in some way. An unsung hero of materials science.

8.      If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?
I am a third-generation scientist. To even think of alternate careers is tantamount to apostasy.

If you’re interested to learn more about research in the Seshadri lab you can read a selection of papers below or check out their research pages on the group website.

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