Jovana V. Milic

Scientist, EPFL

,,

Making a difference is a state of mind.

What do you do?

I develop new materials for energy conversion by relying on the concepts of supramolecular chemistry (i.e. supramolecular engineering), with a particular focus on solar-to-electric energy conversion in photovoltaics.

Why did you choose this field?

What made a profound influence on my professional development were the seminars at the Petnica Science Center that I attended during high school. This is a center dedicated to motivated young students, who are offered an opportunity to explore different research fields throughout the year, where we had a chance to learn more about various aspects of chemistry and conduct summer research projects. Learning about electronic effects in organic materials left me fascinated by the interaction between electrical/(electro)magnetic stimuli and matter, which motivated me to focus on exploring these phenomena to develop "smart materials" that can respond to such physical stimuli. This remains an ongoing challenge that drives my scientific research pursuits.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I have obtained my PhD at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich, pioneering "photoredox-switchable molecular grippers", and successfully transitioning into the field of photovoltaics for my postdoctoral research, implementing the concepts of supramolecular chemistry in this context with some of the world leaders in the research field. This has resulted in a number of scientific contributions recognized by the research community, as well as honors and awards, paving the way for my independent academic career. Looking back, I wish my younger self knew it was possible to follow this path without continuously questioning my choices and abilities in the process. This motivates me to support other young scientists in their visions and pursuits...

Why do you love working in STEM?

Working in STEM comes as naturally as breathing, it is difficult to imagine not being part of the incredible community of scientists and engineers developing new technologies, experiencing this continuous joy of learning and discovery. I enjoy the entire process, asking questions and devising innovative approaches to tackle them in interdisciplinary environments through collaboration and teamwork, where we can express our creativity and make a difference... I wake up every day looking forward to taking part in this process and pursuing new ideas!

Best advice for next generation?

If you enjoy problem-solving and expressing your creativity in the process and you are motivated by science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics - you have everything that it takes to succeed - there is nobody else that can decide whether you belong but yourself. You have the opportunity to solve some of the global challenges from your unique perspective and the world needs you - making a difference is a state of mind!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Life need not be easy, provided only that it is not empty.” - Lise Meitner

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