I am writing these lines to share with our wider community the news that I am leaving NYU Abu Dhabi at the end of the academic year 2020 to move with my family back to Germany. This post is to say good-bye to an amazing group of people and to give an overview about the next steps to ensure the Plastic Lab’s post-corona existence.
Whenever I visited the lab during the past months I got quite depressed. No colourful bottle caps stored in containers in front of the lab, no students walking in and out to work on their projects. An ever growing layer of dust on our stations and the equipment at NYUAD’s waste management site. With everyone moving online, I spent my time alone without the squeezing noise and the mumbling sounds of our self-made machines. No laughters from all of you hanging out and working in the lab. I used this time for disinfection, sorting and cleaning of all parts to enable a quick restart when hibernation ends. In preparation to the moment of rebirth, I have worked to ensure a best possible hand-over so that the lab will continue its endeavours to research the multiple and fascinating facets of plastic in the future.
I am very happy to announce that Prof. Marcela Godoy (NYU Shanghai) has agreed to take over my position to lead NYUAD’s Plastic Recycling Research Lab in the future. Marcela is an active member of the Precious Plastic Shanghai Community and has started a similar lab at NYU Shanghai where she works with teams of students on amazing experimental recycling projects. With her experience in teaching courses around the topics of sustainability and plastic recycling, the workshops she gave in our lab in the past and the overview she gained about our lab’s infrastructure during her co-teaching of the Plastic Fantastic !? J-Term course and during the Precious Plastic WANA Conference 2018, she is a perfect fit for the position of the Plastic Lab’s Director and the research team’s Principal Investigator. I am very happy that she is committing to this adventure and wish her all the best for her plan to continue the growth of NYUAD’s Plastic Recycling Research Lab and her work with the wider community in the UAE and the WANA region! As the lock-down policies are still in place it will take some time until Marcela can join full-time NYUAD – latest update is that she is not able to be hired before Fall 2021 because of a general hiring freeze, but she already received the invitation to teach a new edition of the Plastic Fantastic !? course in Summer 2021.
I am incredibly thankful to my colleague Prof. Goffredo Puccetti (NYU Abu Dhabi) to step forward and to take the responsibility of leading the Plastic Lab as the Plastic Lab’s Interim Director until the Engineering Department is able to hire Marcela full-time. Goffredo and I have collaborated on multiple design projects at NYUAD. He shares a common vision on design and is inexhaustibly fighting for a better accessible and more inclusive campus. I leave the lab in his very capable hands!
I am very grateful about the opportunity to have started and established the Plastic Lab into NYUAD’s ecosystem. With Goffredo already in place and Marcela ready to start whenever she is allowed to, and with the support of the labs’ many volunteers, interns, and Student Research Assistants, as well as our NYUAD student representative and SRA Emma Olivia Anderson, I could not be more positive about the lab’s future!
Thanks again, Marcela, Goffredo and Emma, and to all of you!!!
There are so many more people I would like to thank and I would like to say good-bye to and to tell them that I will always connect them in my memories with NYUAD’s Plastic Lab (but I am also so afraid that I forget to mention someone): All students and Student Research Assistants (Aayush, Emma, Mari, Cameron, Shaheer, Hadi, Rumail, Mohammed, Barkin, Febin, Bianka, Mariam, Yusuf, Mayra, Ying, and specially the ones that started to build the machines in 2016: Ona (!), Hani, Raghav), Capstone students (Hamza, Kazi, Rafay), Summer Research Assistants (from AUS: Hashem, Ahmed), all volunteers and interns (from Cranleigh: Rachel and Bella), all visitors, guests, research partners and collaborators that I was allowed to learn from. Everyone from the global Precious Plastic community and the teams in The Netherlands, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Tel Aviv, Saudi Arabia, India, China, The Philippines, Bosnia Herzegovina, Pakistan, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, United States and the UAE, of course!!! All workers from the waste management site that supported us whenever we needed help, all colleagues and NYUAD members who joined conversations and discussion around our topic. Everyone who has always supported us! Carol Brandt and Bryan Waterman for their never ending ideas and support for the Plastic Fantastic !? course. A special thanks goes to our amazing partners from SERCO that enthusiastically supported this project from the very first minute. Louise Larkins, please express to all your colleagues my deepest gratitude and appreciation! Without Julie Thurston (Facilities Strategic Assessment & Planning) and Terence Monahan (Health & Safety), the support of the Engineering Department’s staff, specially Pauline Conaghan and Jacqui Menezes, it would not have been possible to establish a successful running research lab. Nick and Erin Collins who helped me setting up the lab and to get equipped with shelves, and electricity. Last but not least the collaboration with the American University of Sharjah’s Office of Sustainability, Rose Armour’s team, and the AUS Precious Plastic team around Prof. Zlatan Filipovic and Prof. Daniel Chavez that I have worked with on multiple projects, talks, workshops and the realisation of the prototype of the Mobile Plastic Lab.
Please keep on doing what you do, and fight for a better world!
I promise to visit the lab from time to time. Let’s stay in touch!
All the best,