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2023. 11. 29 -

FTMC chemist A. Zdaniauskienė is the author of the best PhD thesis in 2022!

Dr. Agnė Zdaniauskienė, President Gitanas Nausėda and Chairman of the LJMS Council Vytautas Kučinskas. Photo: Eitvydas Kinaitis / Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania
Dr. Agnė Zdaniauskienė, a researcher at the Department of Organic Chemistry of FTMC, has been recognised as the author of the best PhD thesis in 2022! In the competition organised by the Lithuanian Society of Young Researchers (LJMS), our chemist took 1st place in the fields of natural, technological, medical and health, and agricultural sciences. The topic of her dissertation is "Characterization of biomolecules by shell-isolated nanoparticle-enhanced Raman spectroscopy" (academic supervisor: Prof. Gediminas Niaura).
In this category, a total of 5 best dissertations were nominated, one of which (by A. Zdaniauskienė) was the winner.
Another FTMC scientist is also in this top five. Dr. Evelina Dudutienė, a physicist at the Department of Optoelectronics, was awarded for her work "Photoluminescence properties of GaAsBi quantum wells and Bi quantum dots" (scientific supervisor – Prof. Gintaras Valušis).
Congratulations to our colleagues, we are very proud of you!
The young scientists were honoured at the Presidential Palace, where the Head of State Gitanas Nausėda presented the awards. In addition to the natural sciences, the best dissertations in the humanities, social sciences and the arts were also recognised. The third nomination was for the best dissertation defended by a Lithuanian citizen in a foreign institution of science and studies, and for the best dissertation in the natural sciences, technology, medicine and health, and agriculture defended by a Lithuanian citizen in a foreign institution of science and studies.
(Dr. Agnė Zdaniauskienė. Photo: Eitvydas Kinaitis / Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
A new tool to study molecules
In her speech at the Presidential Palace, Dr. A. Zdaniauskienė, who became the winner, thanked on behalf of all the laureates those without whom the scientific achievements would not have been possible - teachers, lecturers, PhD supervisors and working groups.
"It seems like a very long way to go before the dissertation - 10 years of university after high school. I calculated that we each had to pass about 80 exams to be examined for the last time - at the dissertation defence.
However, when I look at my now colleagues, I realise that this is only the beginning of our scientific journey, that we still have a lot to learn, and probably more than one additional exam to pass. Only from now on, we will be judged not by lecturers, but by the whole international scientific community.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate my fellow young scientists once again and wish us all to be curious, but above all persistent, because sometimes it takes hundreds of experiments to get a result. Therefore, let us always strive for the almost impossible, because only in this way will we be able to achieve more and more," said A. Zdaniauskienė.
For her thesis, the chemist tested a molecular technique called Shell-Isolated Nanoparticle-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SHINERS), which has opened up new avenues for the study of adsorption, catalysis, charge transfer and other processes.
"Studying biomolecules at the molecular level is very difficult and there are not many techniques and methods to do it. So our new SHINERS method, using specific nanoparticles, allows us to analyse molecules and obtain information that has not been available before.
This research is fundamental, but could have many applications in the future. For example, in one of our publications we studied yeast cells: we can get direct information that could help us in the future to develop sensors, detect pathogens, etc.,"says Agnė.
(Dr. Evelina Dudutienė, President Gitanas Nausėda and Chairman of the LJMS Council Vytautas Kučinskas. Photo: Eitvydas Kinaitis / Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania)
Fundamental research is also very important
Meanwhile, Dr. Evelina Dudutienė's dissertation studied the promising material gallium arsenide bismide (GaAsBi) and the chemical element bismuth.
"GaAsBi's unique properties make it very suitable for the production of near-infrared radiation sources.
The near-infrared (NIR) is a spectral region with many applications: data transmission over fibre optics requires telecom lasers, LiDAR technology (3D laser scanning) requires NIR lasers; sensors (such as hemoglobin or blood oxygen levels) need NIR lasers; and the technology is also applicable to acne scarring and varicose veins," said E. Dudutienė.
Another area of her research is the use of bismuth to make quantum dots. The aim is that such quantum dots, grown in the lab (and well studied and improved), will be useful in fibre optics for faster internet, laser systems, etc. (read about the quantum dots being developed by the FTMC here).
However, Evelina emphasises another point about the award: it is too early to talk about the concrete benefits for each of us, and her research is fundamental, i.e. it aims to go to the "root" of the problem - to better understand how materials work. The physicist is therefore delighted that the jury appreciated this.
"It's great to see a thesis being evaluated a little more widely, not just in my lab. My thesis is not really about applications - it is very fundamental. That's why it's great to receive this award.
The fundamental sciences are very often underestimated. But you won't know what you can use the material for if you don't understand it at first. And once you understand it, the applications can come later," says Evelina.
This year, 108 dissertations were submitted to the seventeenth annual best dissertation competition. Of these, 64 were in the fields of science, technology, medicine and health, and agriculture, and 44 in the social sciences, humanities and arts.
FTMC, LJMS and the Presidential Communications Group information
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