Signe Kjelstrup, professor of chemistry at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), served as a group leader at CAS during the 2007/08 academic year for the project Nature-inspired Chemical Process Design.

In the 10 years since her residency, Kjelstrup has maintained her pace as a prolific scholar in the fields of electrochemistry and thermodynamics, among others. Most recently, she was named a principal investigator of PoreLab, a Norwegian Center of Excellence founded earlier this year. 

Kjelstrup looked back on her stay at CAS in an interview last month.

This interview was first published in the CAS newsletter. Sign up here to get the latest news from the Centre delivered directly to your inbox every month.

What do you remember best from your year at CAS?

The most important thing to me was the opportunity for concentration. I remember being able to sit and talk for hours without anyone interrupting us. That’s what’s so different from everyday life at a university, where you’re facing constant interruptions.

I also remember the cosy work atmosphere. Our offices were all downstairs, and then we would head upstairs to attend these fascinating lectures. The Centre did a good job creating a sense of community, which to me is a prerequisite for good research.

How has your career developed since your stay at CAS?

I was already far along in my career when I came to CAS, but what’s happened since then is that I’ve done a lot more interdisciplinary work.

Right now, for example, I’m on my way to a meeting in my role as one of the principal investigators of PoreLab, an interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence. Three of us here at NTNU are working together with two colleagues in physics at the University of Oslo.

I’ve always had an inclination for interdisciplinary work, but the centre is perhaps the clearest indication of that.

What advice do you have for future CAS project leaders?

It’s hard to give advice, because everything is so individualised. What works for one person might not work for someone else. In my case, some things didn’t pan out the way I had planned. If you invite the people you’re used to collaborating with, you can be fairly certain that it will produce results. But you have to take some risks. That’s the opportunity CAS provides.