Kirk Smith's personal blog

I’m building a home lab

I feel very “behind” on things right now. I defended my PhD in January 2022, and I am still, a year and a half later, in the process of converting some of the chapters to publications. I don’t even want to be a traditional academic but I want to get this work “out” and clear it from my mind. It takes ages to write and get these papers through peer review though, and my motivation is in short supply. (I did just get one published though!)

In January 2023 I moved to Paris and started a postdoc, in a different application than my PhD. It’s been a slow start, mostly due to non-research/job-related things related to moving to Paris/France, and I’m confident I’ll be able to do some interesting research there soon enough. But there isn’t much room there to do the research that truly motivates me and that I think is important. I was very lucky to find the postdoc I’m in now, and it checks a lot of boxes for me, but finding one that is aligned with my true research vision is not realistic right now.

Luckily, the type of research I want to do, in the vein of “appropriate technology,” is possible with minimal infrastructure, i.e. I should be able to do it at home and with easily available chemicals, provided I have certain key pieces of equipment. I’m hoping the process of building my home lab and performing experiments in total autonomy will be rejuvenating, and help me get some motivation back so I can finish my PhD-related publications and get into a better rhythm at my postdoc.

My initial home lab project is related to aqueous flow batteries, so I will be setting up a potentiostat, battery cycler, and building different flow cell setups. On this blog, I’ll be documenting the process as well as writing more in detail about the goals of the project, which I’m very excited about!






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