Dr. Ong Wee Jun Featured in Sin Chew Daily as “Nano Energy Driver”

2021-05-29

Earlier this month, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ong Wee Jun from XMUM School of Energy and Chemical Engineering was interviewed by Sin Chew Daily, a leading Chinese-language newspaper in Malaysia, to share his passion as a “Nano Energy Driver”.

In the past decade, Dr. Ong has been committed to developing the next-generation tunable nanomaterials to achieve efficient artificial photosynthesis and sustainable energy production, with sunlight as an energy resource. According to the report, “the success of his impactful research will gear Malaysia’s vision and mission toward clean and renewable energy”.  

Find the coverage by Sin Chew Daily below:  

Dr. Ong Wee Jun has been named “Global Highly Cited Researcher” for the past two consecutive years. Organized by Clarivate Analytics, this award recognizes researchers who have made significant  contribution to their fields through the production of highly-cited papers (ranking in the top 1% by citations in the Web of Science citation index). He is also ranked among the World’s Top 2% Scientists by Stanford University.

Ong’s research primarily focuses on nanomaterials for renewable energy and environmental industrializations, especially via photocatalysis, photoelectrocatalysis and electrocatalysis.  

“Now nanomaterials can already be used to produce clean and renewable fuels, but neither with industrial efficiency nor cost-competitiveness,” says Ong, “as such, what I hope to do is to improve the solar energy conversion efficiency for commercialization.”

With this purpose, Ong has been working on making non-precious-metal nanomaterials more convertible through changing their topography, structure and characteristic.  

Instead of high-temperature operation, Ong aims to use room temperature and solar energy to stimulate photocatalytic reaction, modulating 2D nanomaterials and ameliorating their energy efficiency. All these require tons of fundamental works. But as Ong said: “Which technology is not based on the fundamentals?”  

Ong Wee Jun fell in love with chemistry when he was in primary school. Now at the age of 32, he serves as one of the youngest Associate Professors at Xiamen University Malaysia.

In 2016, he obtained his PhD degree from Monash University. During his PhD study, he engaged as a visiting fellow at Monash University Clayton Campus and University of New South Wales, where he perceived the importance of communication and collaboration in scientific research.

Ong said that it has always been his ambition to become a professor, lead an independent research group and nurture young scholars. Thus, after 2 years working at Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), he returned to Malaysia and joined School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University Malaysia in 2018.

Throughout his research journey on green nanotechnology, Ong Wee Jun has won over 10 international awards, which enabled him to participate in collaborative programs in Germany and USA.  

As one of the 25 “Green Talents 2018”, a competition launched by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Ong enjoyed a 3-month research stay in Germany to develop his innovative green ideas.  

He was also an awardee of the 2018 Mederka Award Grant, with which he stayed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and University of California as a Visiting Professor for three months.

Engagement with the world’s experts has enlarged Ong’s research domain. Last year, his project received support from Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (MOHE Malaysia). Several collaborative works with local and Chinese scholars are currently underway.  

Though specializing in fundamental research, Ong Wee Jun aims to have the results commercialized and help boost Malaysia’s economic growth.  

Thus, he hopes to foster more collaboration with overseas researchers and explore advanced nanomaterials with computer technologies to meet the goals.  

“Nanomaterials’ high conversion efficiency and mass production are essential,” said Ong, “but it takes time for the technologies to reach their full potential.”

A research center under his direction, XMUM Center of Excellence for NaNo Energy & Catalysis Technology, will be launched later this year. As for his career plan, he said he wishes to become a Chair Professor and an academician, as well as to help more students grow into internationally recognized researchers.

Dr. Ong Wee Jun is currently recruiting postgraduate students for his NanoECats research group. If you are interested, please contact him at weejun.ong@xmu.edu.my. For more information about Dr. Ong and his research group, please visit the following website: https://sites.google.com/site/wjongresearch/.

This interview was published on May 4, 2021 in the “New Education” section of Sin Chew Daily (https://www.sinchew.com.my/content/content_2471529.html).

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