Dr. Kunfeng Gao

Can you say a few words about yourself?

I was born in a small village in the south of the North China Plain where I had a happy childhood. After thirteen years old, I started my study and life in different places far away from my parents. My BSc degree, majoring in thermal engineering, was finished in Shanghai University of Electric Power. In junior year, I went to Edith Cowan University in Australia as an exchange student for one year. My MSc and PhD degree were obtained in Beihang university in Beijing where I have stayed for five years, during which two years were spent in ETH Zurich supported by China Scholarship Council.

Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?

We choose each other. I was studying the particulate emission characteristics of aero-engines with passion when there was a chance to talk with Dr. Zamin A. Kanji working in ETHZ who has expertise in aerosol-cloud interactions. Then, I had the scholarship to study in Dr. Kanji’s group and started the topic focusing on the ice nucleation of soot particles which aero-engine also emits.

What attracted you to join LAPI?

LAPI attracts me because LAPI provides me so many options for different research topics and because of the leadership of Prof. Nenes suggested by my PhD supervisor Dr. Zamin A. Kanji. Also, LAPI offers a very good platform to cooperate scientists from different countries and encourages people here to do interdisciplinary research.

Can you speak about the projects you are currently working on and other ones in the past?

I will work on an ERC supported project PyroTRACH which focuses on the atmospheric processes and impacts of biomass burning aerosols. More specifically, I will look more at the ice nucleation ability of biomass burning particles and their cloud-interaction activities. My PhD thesis studied the ice nucleation mechanism of soot particles and systematically simulated the atmospheric aging processes of soot, including the single and combined processes of H2SO4 coating, organic content change and cloud processing, to investigate the ice nucleation behavior of soot in the atmosphere.

What have been some of your biggest challenges? 

The biggest challenge was that when I started in Dr. Kanji’s group in ETHZ I had to start to learn everything about aerosol science from scratch because my previous knowledge and lab skills are not relevant.

What have been some of your biggest successes?

The biggest success for me is that I have finished my MSc-PhD in five years with starting in the field of ice nucleation from taw. Also, I am proud of that five papers with first authorship and one paper with my co-authorship were published/accepted in 2022 and two manuscripts with first authorship were prepared/submitted in 2022.

What do you enjoy to do, outside of science and research?

Reading and sleeping are my favorite things to do. I also enjoy the time to chat and talk with friends. It would be nice if we talk when having a walk or some drinks.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been? 

It is Tibet. I have spent two weeks to travel about 1200 km there in 2018. It is not only the beautiful landscapes and mysterious religious content but also nice and kind people that impressed me.

A free thought for the end?

Learn from the group and the community, communicate with them and collect feedbacks.