My student experience
Dr Tao Wang
"I had the opportunity to meet many peers from around the world, communicate with them and discuss scientific questions, and, working together, we moved forward."
Tao graduated from Surrey with a PhD in Physics in 2009 and is a professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Wuhan University of Technology in China.
He has achieved outstanding results since leaving Surrey, with over 50 papers in high-profile journals on his research in optoelectronics and polymer materials.
He was recognised as a Young Achiever of the Year in the Vice-Chancellor’s 2016 Alumni Award
What does it mean to you to be chosen as one of the Young Achiever of the Year winners?
I am really delighted. This is a big honour to me. I believe many Surrey alumni are doing better than me and I am taking this award on behalf of them all.
What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study here?
There are three things that impressed me at. Firstly, the Guildford campus is naturally beautiful as my friends told me and as I could see from the University website. Secondly, my prospective PhD supervisor, Joe Keddie (in the Department of Physics), is quite an achiever at his young age, and this encouraged me to follow his path. Thirdly, the University and the department were very supportive of my scholarship application.
What were the best things about your course?
During my PhD time at Surrey, I learned to do research. I also had the opportunity to meet many peers from around the world, communicate with them and discuss scientific questions, and, working together, we moved forward.
"I also have more understanding of different cultures and customs, learned to respect others and appreciate difference."
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey student?
At the time of admission, I was a freshman on science and research. I made progress by following advice initially and then eventually became independent. Having these with me, I turned strong.
What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
One part is that the research outcomes from my team are recognised as useful and helpful by other peers. Another part I really enjoy is that I can pass knowledge to students and make them stronger.
What are the challenges?
On the research field, there are actually many challenges, but we can solve them one by one with collaborative work. On the student education part, it would be how to improve our teaching to encourage imagination and creativity.
Tell us about your research area
I am working on various optoelectronic devices. We make devices to convert light into electricity, or convert electricity into light. We try to make more efficient devices by finding new materials to build the devices, or optimise the device structure.
What do you consider to be a career highlight?
I was awarded a Thousand Talent Professor position by the Chinese government and provided very generous funding to set up my lab to do research of my choice.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My research outcomes can provide renewable energy to the community, and it will be even better if they can make the world more sustainable and enjoyable.
What is your strongest or happiest memory of your time at Surrey?
This would be hiking along the River Wey from Guildford town centre to Shalford and then take a train back on a summer weekend.
What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in your field?
For any students who are studying natural science, my advice would be try to link knowledge in text books with practice, try to make opportunities to walk around or work in laboratories of a college or university.
Discover our physics courses.