Students of VTChem: Meng Jiang
May 12, 2022
"I believe in Taoism. Basically, Taoism is just people following nature. The way nature runs is the major governing rule. I believe all religions are just another way of describing nature, the rule governing this universe. I believe science is the observation of nature and the description of the pattern that has been observed so far. Some of them make a theory, others make a rule that can be used in future predictions of our life.
Personally I don’t want to disturb nature and the way [it runs] too much. That’s why back in Florida I was working on depolymerization and decomposing polymers. Initially when people developed polymers, they thought, “oh it can be useful and cost effective” but at the same time the initial inventor of polymers thought, “we really can’t destroy it or recycle the waste so probably we should [just] use it in bigger scale applications.” But others didn’t listen to him and directly started to use plastic bottles and all of this plastic waste started to be generated in this world and there’s no perfect way to decompose it besides burning at very high temperatures. That was my previous work; I was trying to develop some catalyst for decomposing polymers. I’m still working on sustainability related research, mainly on energy storage [such as] lithium ion batteries, that kind of thing. I don’t think I’m working against my beliefs because it’s still in line with what I believe as following nature and [that] the way we work and live on this planet shouldn’t disturb it. That’s what I’ve always believed, but during research there are always conflicts when you generate a lot of waste to do the research.
I always believed that maybe we have too much modernization and technology that we may not need to satisfy our personal need for happiness. Sometimes we are just too addicted and attached to this modern technology like cell phones and computers, but in the end we don’t actually need a lot of them and we keep advancing [the technology] to make us happy. Instead we probably should just cherish something very simple from nature like observing some flowers blossoming; this can make us happy as well. I think if we keep going with advancing technologies, we will probably require a lot of consumption of energy and supplies of energy to keep us moving forward. I always have a doubt if we are going in the right direction or if we should step back and think [about] what actually is the thing that makes us happy and the goal of life." - Meng Jiang