By Ben Donohue & Olivia Ortegon
Sparked by her interest from working for an oil and gas refinery in Pakistan, her home country, Mariah Batool says “fuel cells have always amazed me. I believe they are the next big thing”.
Mariah came to UConn on a Fulbright scholarship to focus on her research on advanced image processing methods for fuel cell applications which is a specialty of Dr. Jasna Jankovic, Assistant Professor in Materials Science & Engineering Dept. who conducts research at UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering.
“I was presented with an opportunity to give a 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) at the World Fuel Cell Conference (WFCC) in Canada where I shared and explained my research in less than three minutes. The biggest challenge of a 3MT is being concise and choosing non-technical words for a non-technical audience to understand the research” said Mariah.
The WFCC is organized by the International Association of Hydrogen Energy (IAHE) as well as the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) in Canada. The conference features academia and industry and allows for people to share or gain knowledge of the fuel cell industry.
When asked about her experience at the conference, Mariah explained “Originally, I wasn’t planning on participating in the conference since I had just had a baby, but when it was moved to a virtual format, I reconsidered.” The process of the event consisted of making a video, presenting to a panel who down selected to the final 20 participants. Those participants then presented their research in a live session followed by a two-minute question and answer session.
Mariah explained that she wasn’t expecting second place at all. She tried her best to simplify her research by not using complex words but explained that it’s harder to express research in a simpler way for people who don’t know about the research, as it may be harder for them to find a purpose in it. Mariah was pleasantly surprised when she was awarded 2nd place. She mentions that it would not have been possible without Professor Jankovic. She goes on to say, “she’s an amazing mentor and professor. I’m so fortunate to have her”.
“I was a person who used to think that I am not good at expressing my thoughts and communicating”, Mariah explains. “This led me to believe I was underestimating myself and my potential”. Besides the prize, Mariah expressed that the most important part of the experience was discovering her potential. Since becoming a mother, Mariah quickly had to figure out how to return to her research. This opportunity led her to believe that nothing has changed and that she could, “go on to do wonders”.
“Be very concise and clear. Remember that not everyone knows your research and its implication on the world, so try to relate that research to what we see in the world”, Mariah advises students who are interested in participating in future events.
We congratulate Mariah on her prestigious award, on becoming a mother, and her journey onwards to do “wonders”.