Samantha Apps tells us about her work on exploring new ways to produce ammonia and the importance of perseverance.
As a chemist, finding new ways to make molecules excites me, particularly when it comes to making chemicals that have a significant societal impact. My research uses the fundamental science behind making an unreactive molecule reactive. It investigates the chemical transformations of atmospherically abundant nitrogen gas into ammonia and other molecules.
Harnessing atmospheric nitrogen for synthesis and developing new chemical transformations is challenging. However, any small dent I can make in this field of research still contributes to overall knowledge and progress. One application of my research is exploring new ways to produce ammonia, a chemical used in fertilizers, which are integral in food production. By exploring more sustainable methods of creating ammonia we could significantly contribute towards sustaining the rising global population. It’s this type of contribution that keeps me motivated towards achieving my research goals.
I have always been inspired by the researchers I work with. Being in a community of like-minded scientists is extremely motivating, and I enjoy constantly learning from my colleagues and discussing new ideas and experiments. Ultimately, I find the challenge of tackling scientific problems and contributing knowledge to the community very rewarding, and this inspires me to keep researching.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: Creativity and perseverance are critical. I am constantly thinking about what I can do that is different to existing studies, yet still exciting and relevant. It also takes a lot of determination to power through failed experiments (unfortunately, I have had many!), but I like to view each failed experiment as a stepping stone toward finding new solutions to achieve my research goals.