Materials Horizons 10th Anniversary ‘Community Spotlight’ – Meet our Emerging Investigators Part 2

Introducing Materials Horizons’ Emerging Investigators 2020/2021 – Part 2.

This year we are pleased to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Materials Horizons. We are so grateful to our fantastic community of authors, reviewers, Board members and readers and wanted to showcase just some of them in a series of ‘Community Spotlight’ blog articles.

In our second ‘Community Spotlight’, we feature some of our past ‘Emerging Investigators’ who have contributed their outstanding research to Materials Horizons.

Our Emerging Investigators series highlights early career scientists who have excelled in their field and work to provide quality research and communications in order to contribute to the constant evolution of chemical sciences. We asked some of our past Emerging Investigators about their experience as up-and-coming researchers and how their work has developed from early career stage to now. Check out their interview responses below.


Eleni Stavrinidou, Emerging Investigator 2021
Linköping University, Sweden

Photo of Eleni Stavrinidou

Eleni Stavrinidou is an Associate Professor and leader of the Electronic Plants group at Linköping University. She received a PhD in Microelectronics from EMSE (France) in 2014. She then did her postdoctoral training at Linköping University (Sweden) during which she was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship. In 2017 Eleni Stavrinidou became Assistant Professor in Organic Electronics at Linköping University and established the Electronic Plants group. She received several grants including a Swedish Research Council Starting Grant and a FET-OPEN grant which she was the coordinator. In 2020 she became Associate Professor and Docent in Applied Physics. The same year she was awarded the Future Research Leaders grant of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research. In 2021 she was awarded the ERC-Staring Grant. Stavrinidou is recipient of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science prize in Sweden (2019) and the Tage Erlander Prize for Natural Sciences and Technology from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2023).  Her research interests focus on plant bioelectronics for real time monitoring and dynamic control of plant physiology and plant-based biohybrid systems for energy and sensing applications.


What inspired you to pursue a career in your specific field of research?

“I am fascinated by the potential of interfacing technological systems with biology to solve societal problems but also for pure scientific curiosity. Biological systems are beautiful but complex and can rarely be approximated into simpler ones of fully be described with physical laws. I find very inspiring the possibility to rationally manipulate biological events with technological devices but also to be able to use biological processes for development of materials or devices and harness some of nature’s intelligence in technology.”

How would you summarise the research which lead to your recognition as an Emerging Investigator for Materials Horizons?

“The research that led to my recognition from Materials Horizons is plant based biohybrid systems. Plants are amazing machines powered by the sun that can self-repair, sense, and adapt to their environment while having hierarchical structures and complex biochemistry. Plant based biohybrid systems aim to leverage plant processes and structures for technological applications.  We developed biohybrid plants with an electronic root system. We harnessed the biocatalytic machinery of intact plants to integrate electronic materials into their structure while the plants maintain their biological functions and continue to grow and develop. The integrated mixed ionic–electronic conductors maintained their functionality over weeks and as a proof of concept we demonstrated energy storage in the plant. “


You can read Eleni’s editorial and featured article here:


Biohybrid plants with electronic roots via in vivo polymerization of conjugated oligomers

Daniela Parker, Yohann Daguerre, Gwennaël Dufil, Daniele Mantione, Eduardo Solano, Eric Cloutet, Georges Hadziioannou, Torgny Näsholm, Magnus Berggren, Eleni Pavlopoulou and Eleni Stavrinidou.

Mater. Horiz., 2021,8, 3295-3305 DOI: 10.1039/D1MH01423D


Materials Horizons Emerging Investigator Series: Dr Eleni Stavrinidou, Linköping University, Sweden.

Eleni Stavrinidou.

Mater. Horiz., 2021,8, 3176-3177. DOI: 10.1039/D1MH90062E




Tianyi Ma, Emerging Investigator 2021
RMIT, Australia

Photo of Tianyi Ma

Tianyi Ma is a Full Professor in School of Science at RMIT University, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), and Clarivate’s Global Highly Cited Researcher. He is a leading scientist in renewable energy field, with pioneering work done in the areas of functional photocatalytic, electrocatalytic, thermocatalytic and piezocatalytic materials for renewable solar, mechanical, and thermal energy harvesting, storage and utilisation, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), as well as next-generation high performance battery and supercapacitor energy storage devices. His research group aims to combine these revolutionary technologies focusing on all sectors of the renewable energy supply chain to eventually achieve the global carbon neutrality. He has secured over $15 million government and industry grants to conduct innovation work and industry directed projects. He has published over 300 refereed papers, filed 15 patents, and conducted multiple real-life demonstration projects. In recognition of his contribution and reputation, he has been awarded Horizon Prize of Royal Society of Chemistry, Australian Academy of Science Le Févre Medal, Australian Nominee for the 2023 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education, Young Tall Poppy Science Award, and Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).


What are some of the current trends or emerging areas of research within your field that you find particularly exciting or promising?

“One of my proudest research projects is the solar driven photocatalysis for hydrogen production, CO2 and N2 fixation. While previous research focus more on the powdery catalysts along with their insight reaction mechanism, now more and more attempts move to integrate the catalysts into monoliths and membranes and eventually into a realistic device, that can find more practical application in real-life deployment.”

What advice would you give to aspiring scientists who hope to make a significant impact in their respective fields?

“I would say it is always important to find fundamental breakthrough in science and technology, but it is also the ultimate goal to generate benefit out of science, namely, to translate the knowledge into true impact in the forms of prototypes, demonstrations, and even pilot plants. By doing this, scientists should seek for not only research collaborators but also industry partners to gather the expertise and experience from different parties and achieve something big.”


You can read Tianyi’s editorial and featured article here:


In situ identification of the electrocatalytic water oxidation behaviour of a nickel-based metal–organic framework nanoarray

Fanpeng Cheng, Zhongjian Li, Lin Wang, Bin Yang, Jianguo Lu, Lecheng Lei, Tianyi Ma and Yang Hou.

Mater. Horiz., 2021,8, 556-564 DOI: 10.1039/D0MH01757D


Materials Horizons Emerging Investigator Series: Tianyi Ma, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.

Tianyi Ma.

Mater. Horiz., 2021,8, 298-299 DOI: 10.1039/D1MH90007B




Chengyi Hou, Emerging Investigator 2021
Donghua University, China

Photo of Chengyi Hou

Chengyi Hou, a professor at Donghua University, is engaged in the development of innovative methods and experimental approaches to address the key scientific and technical challenges related to scalable synthesis, processing and assembly of smart fibres and fabrics. The novel fibre/fabric materials realize sensory and actuatory tasks like health monitoring, personal thermal management, and human-machine interaction. Their potentialities in next-generation clothing have also been explored. Chengyi Hou edited one book on smart clothing, and published over 100 peer-review journal articles on smart fibres and wearable materials, with several publications on Science, Science Advances, Nature Communications, Advanced Materials, Materials Horizons, amongst others.

What inspired you to pursue a career in your specific field of research?

“The rise of wearables. From socialization to personal health management, wearable digital devices are changing the way we experience our everyday lives. Along with everyone else I witnessed the impact of wearables in fashion, healthcare, entertainment, and many other industries. It encouraged me to keep involving in this specific field since the beginning of my career. However, there’s no guarantee that people will continue wearing digital devices over time because of barriers existing between wearables and wear. Currently, we are focusing on smart fibers, also known as fiber electronics, because it has obvious advantages in comfortability, weaveability, and wearability over bulk or thin-film devices. So, our next goal is to make wearables more wear-able.”

What are some of the current trends or emerging areas of research within your field that you find particularly exciting or promising?

“Try to imagine what will happen when all functions of a smartphone are integrated into a single fiber. Such a smart fiber represents the ultimate version of digital devices, and will revolutionize the way people live, work, and communicate. So, fiber electronics with either one or multiple digital functions including sensing, powering, displaying, and communication is extremely promising. I am also excited about the possible future of smart clothing. As our second skin, the new clothes based on smart fibers will become an intelligent interface between human and nature.”



You can read some of Chengyi’s featured articles here:


Scalable fluid-spinning nanowire-based inorganic semiconductor yarns for electrochromic actuators

Linpeng Li, Kun Wang, Hongwei Fan, Xiangyu Zhu, Jiuke Mu, Hao Yu, Qinghong Zhang, Yaogang Li, Chengyi Hou and Hongzhi Wang.

Mater. Horiz., 2021,8, 1711-1721 DOI: 10.1039/D1MH00135C


Scalable multi-dimensional topological deformation actuators for active object identification

Tianyi Ji, Wei Gong, Jie Zhou, Yangmin Jing, Ruizhe Xing, Bingjie Zhu, Kerui Li, Chengyi Hou, Qinghong Zhang, Yaogang Li and Hongzhi Wang.

Mater. Horiz., 2023,10, 1726-1736 DOI: 10.1039/D2MH01567F




We hope you enjoy reading these interviews from our Emerging Investigators. You can find all our past Emerging investigator editorials and featured articles here:


Emerging Investigators 2020/2021

Emerging Investigators 2022/2023



This is only part two of September’s community spotlight. Don’t forget to check out part one here:


Materials Horizons 10th Anniversary’ Community Spotlight’ – Meet our Emerging Investigators Part 1


Or to read more of our community spotlight blog, return to the home page here


Coming up next month in our Community Spotlight are our Outstanding Reviewers.

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