Zhou Lu came to UNT in the fall of 2018 to pursue a Doctorate in Chemistry. Of course, there's more to the story than just that. His sole goal was to work in Professor Mohammad Omary's research group because they have similar research projects.
Zhou grew up in Wuxi, China, approximately 85 miles northwest of Shanghai. He earned his bachelor's degree from Shantou University in China, where he first read about Dr. Omary's work, before beginning his doctoral work at UNT. While at UNT, Zhou has produced 12 peer-reviewed manuscripts from his dissertation and other research activities, most of which have been published in top chemistry and science journals.
Dr. Omary is a well-known prestigious chemist in the Inorganic Chemistry and Material Science fields. His research lab is devoted to designing and synthesizing materials and fabricating electronic devices that provide light while producing clean energy and his group focuses on three major areas: fundamental spectroscopic and structural studies of luminescent transition metal complexes; molecular electronic devices; and metal-organic framework for adsorption of hydrogen and other gases.
"Before I applied for (the) UNT Chemistry Ph.D. program, I contacted him to express my hope to join his group," Zhou says. "He encouraged me to apply and provided me some suggestions."
Zhou's dissertation focuses on the study of the metallophilicity (metal-to-metal attraction), aromaticity, and photoluminescent properties of cyclic trinuclear metal complexes. Through experiments and theoretical approaches, Zhou studies metal-metal interactions and the resulting properties in multi-nuclear metal complexes.
In addition to his own research, Zhou has helped Dr. Omary and his collaborators complete their manuscripts, including one that was accepted into the prestigious journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"He possesses excellent and unique skills in both experimental and computational techniques that most other group and department graduate students do not have," Dr. Omary says. "More importantly, (he) is also extremely collegial and generous to teach those skills to researchers that could utilize them, whether he gets credit for that or not."
For his part, Zhou attributes his research skills to Dr. Omary, who he says has had the greatest impact on his experience at UNT. They don't just work together; Dr. Omary encourages Zhou to keep exploring science and guides his development as an independent researcher. He also advises Zhou on how to be a good team member.
This motivation and support don't end with Dr. Omary; Zhou says all faculty and staff members in the Chemistry Department have helped him during his time at UNT.
"They work very hard to maintain high-efficient operations on both administration stuffs and scientific instruments support," he says. "When I need help from them at any time, they are all willing to help me with great patience and provide professional suggestions."
Zhou plans to continue his work after graduation in a university postdoctoral research position.
As he wraps up his time at UNT, Zhou says he will always remember the kindness of the people he has worked with as they helped him reach his goals. For those who are just starting their journeys with the Mean Green, he offers simple advice: know yourself, have a specific goal and plan accordingly.
"Know your advantages and disadvantages," he says. "Understand what you can and cannot do. Know what you really need and want, and plan accordingly based on yourself."
Read more UNT Fall 2022 Great Grad stories at https://commencement.unt.edu/great-grads-fall-2022