Master and doctoral degree completed in 3,5 years

Last week, Dr. Purba Purnama visited the Indonesia Embassy in Yeouido to meet the Ambassador, John A. Prasetio. Guest researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) recounted his experience completing doctorate and master at KIST in just 3,5 years. The achievement put him as the fastest person in South Korea to complete master and doctoral degree, which usually completed within 5 years.

"After a year-long lecture I was able to take an integrated program master and doctorate for 4 years, but I am determined to finish it in less than 4 years", said the 30-year-old man and father of one child. His supervisor also said that he could pass anytime if he made a lot of publications or research papers in international journals. The term sounds simple as only one publication needed in international journals to complete a doctorate. In reality, the supervisor always asking for more than one publication. To people who already know how hard it is for a research paper to be published in the international scientific journal, this condition was uncompromising.

"However, as requested by the supervisor, it was a challenge for me", said Purba. He began to struggle with all the lab equipment, worked until crack of dawn and sometimes suffered injuries from glass reactor. 10 months later Purba has published his first scientific papers on the research of natural polymers, known as stereocomplex polylactide (s-PLA) by supercritical fluid technology. Polylactide/Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) polymers are made from renewable sources and derived from the etherification of lactic acid obtained by fermentation of bacteria using substrates starches or simple sugars. Poly Lactic Acid also heat resistant, strong and flexible. Plastics from natural polymers are environmental friendly and will decompose in a short time. Nowadays, plastics generally made from petroleum based polymer that will decompose in more than 500 years.

"These polymers are not new since they have been found in 1986", said Purba. He said that what he did was to improve its quality. Until his graduation in late 2012, Purba has published 11 scientific publications papers in leading scientific journals including American Chemical Society journal: Macromolecules. Two of them obtained a patent from South Korea and United States. Purba graduated on August 8, 2012 at KIST with Ph.D. in the field of bio-polymers. In addition, when all Indonesian citizens attended the Independence Day ceremony, Purba had another graduation ceremony at University of Science and Technology in Daejon on August 17, 2012. During his study, his lab had collaboration with Korean company such as Hyundai for cooperation in research program.

During conversation with the Ambassador, Purba said that many Indonesian students are as good as Korean students, even some of them are better. "Actually, a lot of brilliant students from Indonesia who currently studying in South Korea. This year, there will be another Indonesian student at KIST who completed his master and doctoral degree within 4 years" said Purba. Presently, there are more than 30 Indonesian students at KIST. KIST is a government science agencies under the Ministry of Education and Science of Korea. "Almost in every graduation ceremony, Indonesian student mentioned as the best graduate", informed Purba.

Purba also revealed that all scientific research in developed and advanced countries such as South Korea, always aimed to benefit people as well as commercial purposes. Therefore, a lot of new products discovered using new materials which beneficial for human being. Moreover, the researchers passionately discover new innovations with full support of the government. The business world also provides benefits if their findings were commercial. "Unfortunately, the research in Indonesia mostly still basic that is for science purpose only", said Purba.(sosbud)


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