Miguel Muñoz Rojo joined the department of Thermal and Fluid Engineering (TFE) at the University of Twente as a tenure-track in 2018. At the end of 2021, Miguel got a position at the National Research Council in Spain (CSIC). We talked to Miguel because he still has a collaboration and a strong bond with the University of Twente and the colleagues of the TFE department. Besides that, he just received an ERC Consolidator grant to develop a solid-state thermal modulator for dynamic thermal management of batteries.
Miguel directly starts talking about his start at the UT. “I remember I liked especially the well-balanced combination of excellent senior and resourceful professors with young ones that had an outstanding international track within the TFE department.” The original seed of his ERC proposal was generated when he was a postdoc at Stanford University. “However, it wasn’t until I arrived at the University of Twente when I started to give shape to the idea.” The interaction with the UT assessors and some of the top researchers within this university were key to the original development of this proposal.
Miguel is still very happy he worked at the University of Twente. “Together with the top-notch facilities of the University of Twente and their ample formative support, it was the perfect seeding ground to grow fast as a professor. In the meantime, I was contributing with my pinch of salt to the growth and visibility of the University of Twente.” Within this context, staff can be provided with high level courses and support to continuously improve the skills and to overcome the always dynamic scientific and managerial challenges associated to professor positions. Miguel adds: “The support that I received from the TFE department made me always feel comfortable. It motivated me to continue making progress in my research and in the educational courses that I developed.”
Despite the moving Miguel was thrilled to see that the department also wanted to keep on cooperating. “It is in the core of the group and the faculty to pursue high level international cooperation and we were able to find a new arrangement that led to mutual benefits.” Gerrit Brem, head of the Thermal Engineering group adds: “When Miguel decided to return to Spain for an offer he could not refuse, we tried to find a way to continue our journey and we were lucky to acquire a new joint project to realize this. It is a pleasure to cooperate with excellent researchers like Miguel.”
The cooperation between Miguel and the University of Twente for the coming years is fixed. “I have double affiliation with the university till 2027 and I hope that this cooperation can be extended in the future. At the moment, I am working with multiple UT colleagues to submit proposals to EU calls.”
As told, Miguel just received an ERC Consolidator grant and he has his own ambition within the context of his grant: “My vision is to contribute to a new era of thermal control through the development of advanced and non-linear thermal devices that will enrich our thermal management, storage and harvesting capabilities. This ERC grant will allow me to develop a solid-state thermal modulator that will be integrated in batteries for nearly isothermal operation”
The experience of writing an ERC was a hard one. “It is a marathon and generally involves a long-term effort and sacrifice. I worked many years in developing preliminary results for this proposal and to establish myself in the advanced and non-linear thermal control domain. Additionally, during my other submissions, I learnt from the feedback of the reviewers, which helped me to improve the proposal. This comes with lots of sacrifice and uncertainty regarding your outcome. While proposal rejections come with quite some frustration, it was important to me to keep the faith and realize that in the worst case scenario, there are always other calls where your work can be submitted. This is a learning process that makes you a more resilient researcher.”
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