Can you tell us a bit about what you do and how your research group got started?
Mina: “In 2020, we looked to introduce a new range of functionalities to our coatings by setting up the Surface Activation group within our Global Innovation Team. We all worked together to set the boundaries and define the areas we’re working on. We had to convince many people along the way that this transformational group is a necessity.
“As the group lead and principal researcher – together with a diverse team from R&D, marketing and ISC – I looked into the major trends and drivers in the industry, proposed the focus area of surface activation by integration of technologies beyond chemistry, investigated research leads in this field and collaborated with experts from different fields.
“Doing so, we’ve managed to turn our everyday surfaces into interactive and sensory surfaces.”
Where did your career in science begin?
Mina: “Back in my childhood I was always a very curious one, always doing little experiments with different sorts of materials. I wanted to know how they behaved and how I could manipulate and change them for the better.
“I started as a petroleum engineer back in Iran, but it's a very male dominated atmosphere and that put me off a little bit. I decided to go back to my original interest, materials. After obtaining my Master’s on the material science of working with nanomaterials, I worked for a Research Institute on new technologies, mainly around coatings and paint. So I was already narrowing down towards my current career.
“Upon finalizing my PhD on self-healing coatings at TU Delft, I joined AkzoNobel as a researcher. While I moved into Marketing for a time, working as a product/portfolio manager, I was thrilled to make a return to R&D as Senior Researcher, leading the Surface Activation team.”