Involve me and I will learn - inauguration of professor of Advanced Interfaces & Materials Louis de Smet

May 15, 2024

Professor of Advanced Interfaces & Materials, Louis de Smet, started his inaugural speech with a quote from versatile scientist, researcher, inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” His supervisor Hans Griesser once told the young De Smet in the lab this quote. He never forgot it. However, how do you involve spectators in an inauguration? Especially if your audience varies in age from almost 8 to 80 years old?

Simply by sharing his enormous passion for his research and education field. De Smet's love for analytical and surface chemistry goes back to when he received a chemistry book as a gift from his parents and brother. The book explained simple experiments in water, gas and electricity. Full of enthusiasm and supported by animations and videos, De Smet then showed a number of illustrative experiments during his speech, like he himself performed as a child.

His current career is still linked to that early introduction to chemistry. Today he works with great dedication on topics such as water, salt, surfaces, electricity and thin molecular layers. He is particularly interested in recovering high-quality materials, such as nutrients, from water streams.

Advanced Interfaces & Materials

With his start as professor of Advanced Interfaces & Materials, part of the Laboratory for Organic Chemistry, De Smet expects to contribute with his team to solving the major global challenges in the field of environmental pollution and climate change.

In his speech, De Smet showed with examples and ideas how the field of organic chemistry and the further development of separation and adsorption techniques contribute to countering these challenges. He also emphasized that it is (partly) about problems that people have created themselves. Prevention is better and other policy strategies are needed to use natural resources more efficiently. He looks forward to continuing the work in his field.