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Do not forget to smile

Veerapandian Ponnuchamyresearcher at InnoRenew CoE; main area of research: computational chemistry


  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

I was born and brought up in a small village called Nagapalayam (Srivilliputtur taluk in Virudhunagar district in Tamilnadu state – located in the extreme southern part of India). Now, I live in Izola, a coastal as well as calm place (my point of view!!), in Slovenia. This is my first-ever place of living close to the sea.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

I studied chemistry and the motif was begun at high school. During this time, I found myself interested in the chemistry subject more than any other subject, and, perhaps, the high school chemistry teacher who most inspired me to get into the chemistry field.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

I would expect someone should have good imagination power to explain computational chemistry.  I would start with it is all about creativity. Consider that any matter or physical substance is made up of atoms and molecules, which we can study (their properties and behaviour) with the help of a mathematical algorithm and computer.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

I would typically start a day with checking all computational calculations, which I submitted on the previous day. After, I look at the results and create a new system. Again, it’s all about creativity and design.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

I am quite excited every day when I study and learn new things related to wood materials. Sometimes, it comes through wood-based presentations, workshops and trainings.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

The challenges in my area are to get motivated to study and learn a lot in order to start a new computational code and also design a particular system. Moreover, integrating different computational chemistry scales is much more challenging.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

I have always been fascinated by our Indian scientist Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, an aerospace scientist known as the “Missile Man of India” for his contribution to India, which was really staggering to our nation.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

Mostly, I watch movies, comedies and documentaries.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

Recently, I watched “Avengers: Endgame” and regional (Tamil) movies.

  • Describe your very first impression of Slovenia.

I was here in June 2018 for the interview. I kept saying to myself that, wow, it is a nice, calm and particularly clean city. On the same day, I got a chance to join with InnoRenew members in a team outing event at the Izola beach. I felt like I was part of the team.

  • What do you like about Slovenia and what do you miss most from your homeland?

I like the Adriatic sea and coastal cities and food. I mostly miss Indian spices here.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

I feel most happy to walk along the Izola and Koper coast to look at the wide view of the sea with small sailing boats.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

I like to travel/visit different countries and be friendly with people to explore their culture, traditional foods and social activities.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

Learn new things. Never give up from trying something that we really want to have some experience on. And, most importantly, do not forget to smile.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

I thought wood can be used only for making furniture, beams for construction and warming purposes.  A few years ago, I was really amazed by the fact that wood can also be used to substitute for materials that originally come from fossil fuels. I got some wood subject knowledge from my wife, and here I wanted to thank her. Moreover, wood or wood wastes can be turned into various high value-added products. Wood is a unique and ubiquitous natural resource on earth.