Shaping the Future: An Inside Look at Ms. Katherine, S. T., Ph.D.’s Perspective on i3L

Authored by: Ayumi Marsella (BM ’22)

On 17th April 2024, i3L officially elected Ms. Katherine, S. T., Ph.D. from the Biotechnology department as the rector for the 2024-2029 term. Since a university rector is responsible for setting the institution’s direction and goals, it would be nice if we could get to know our new rector better. In this article, we will be talking and learning from our rector, Ms. Katherine, about her background, research interests, and perspective on i3L’s positioning as an educational institute and its future direction.

Ms. Katherine, who often goes by Ms. Kat, graduated from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Ph. D. from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in the field of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. As a chemical engineer, Ms. Kat puts her interests in several topics, some of them including nanoparticle, fermentation, and particle engineering for food or medicine.

Since Ms. Kat has a background in Chemical Engineering, her projects and interests have always been focused on the application of chemistry or biotechnology, which is reflected in her Ph.D. project.

“For my Ph.D., I formulated nanoparticles for inhaled drug delivery, for example, currently the main treatment choice for asthma patients is nebulizers, and there is actually an alternative formulation that utilizes dry powder (nanoparticles) for longer shelf-life and better portability.”

Moreover, Ms. Kat is also interested in technologies such as co-crystalization and is currently working on several projects.

Recently, I became particularly interested in technologies that are easy to scale up without the need for expensive equipment. One of the projects that I’m working on is co-crystalization, where I work on homogenous crystallization that is used to increase the solubility of compounds that are insoluble such as curcumin. Moreover, because of my biotechnology background, I have been working on the production of bacterial cellulose and its application for different purposes. One example of the application is the usage of probiotics and postbiotics loaded bacterial cellulose as an advanced wound healing material.”

Ms. Kat’s interest in applied sciences and her calling to help and take care of people have been her biggest drive and motivation for being the new i3L rector. Moreover, in this interview, Ms. Kath also shared her perspective on i3L.

From my perspective, i3L is a highly dynamic and fast-paced environment filled with young faculties and energetic students which I particularly like the most. I also believe that the presence of i3L in Indonesia is unique as we focus on life science and business. The reason behind these two different fields is that we hope that we can initiate and develop something in the lab (life science side), and also commercialize it to the public (business side), which I believe can greatly contribute to our country.”

As i3L is an institution that works closely with academic excellence and innovation, Ms, Kat mentioned several plans to promote it by setting the curriculum standard, exposing i3L students to case studies and guest lecturers, and also involving students in research and community services. On the other hand, regarding innovation, Ms. Kat highly encourages the students to go out and understand the problems that people face.

From my perspective, to have innovation, we cannot just stay in the lab. You need to go out and try to understand people’s problems. Innovation can only be called innovation if people actually adapt to the technology. If you have a technology but no one is using it, that is not an innovation. In my opinion, even if you find just a slight improvement of the existing technology, but it is used by everyone, that is the real innovation. But again, to do that, you need to understand people”

Finally, at the end of the interview, Ms. Kat left a message for i3L students.

If you are given an opportunity, make the most of it! Don’t just stay in class, but get involved in various communities and activities or join competitions, because those are very important for your self-improvement. Having a good GPA is good, but only having a good GPA is not good enough for you to grow. Therefore, you don’t need to get a perfect GPA, but instead, I am encouraging you to get as much experience as possible. So go grab those opportunities and do your best!”

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