The pandemic has been obstructed many sectors in the world, one of them is the science sector. Schools, universities, laboratories, and other facilities are closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, it does not make a chemistry lecturer, Fitri Khoerunnisa, S.Pd., M.Si., Ph.D., to do research. Focused on nanomaterial environmental chemistry, she tries to do the best so the result can be applied to society. After being interviewed on Monday (2/8/2021), she tells about her project that has been conducted for the last 5 years about the development of nanocomposite polymer. Nanocomposite polymer is the synthesis of some polymer material, from chitosan and other polymer material which is blended with carbon nanomaterial.
Since studying in Japan to get her doctoral degree, she has already focused on a nanomaterial, particularly in carbon such as graphite. Because it looks promising, when she went back to Indonesia, she tried to combine nanomaterial especially carbon-based with other material which the basic is available in Indonesia such as biopolymer. The goal of the research is for society’s prosperity especially to develop the alternative of water purification. She involves five students under her supervision to help her in this year’s research, three students of undergraduate and two students of postgraduate.
“This project has been running which started by the making of ultrafiltration membrane, then microfiltration membrane, and now we try to move to make nanofiltration membrane to purify water,” she said.
2020 feels more challenging for her because the government focuses revenue on research. The funds obtained are from the National Competitive Grants of the Ministry of Education and Culture, UPI, and also Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The research is still running with nanocomposite and the last progress is the development of anti-bacterial membrane with nanocomposite polymer-based. The research then switched to prevent Covid-19 because there is a special duty. What is being developed is antiseptic material as a measure to prevent Covid-19 exposure. The product which is expanded is the production of gel and liquid hand sanitizer. She uses materials that available in the laboratory. The composition is arranged in such a way to have better inhibition against exposure to microorganisms.
There are many obstacles she faces in this pandemic such as tools and materials which are limited or stuck abroad due to the impact of lockdowns, the access to laboratories are closed, and others. The research steps are cannot be changed but she has a strategy so the research can still be running. For example, collaborating with partners such as LIPI or partners abroad. She is always motivated to makes more research because she feels that she has a big moral responsibility for her students and society. She hopes that the laboratories are accessible with the health protocol and the import regulation for materials and tools of research can be easier so she can continue her research better.