Photo of Saudagar Dongares
Saudagar Dongares

Postdoc of the Month: Saudagar Dongare

To recognize the contributions postdoctoral researchers make to Case Western Reserve University—and their respective fields—The Daily has partnered with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs on a new monthly series. Know an outstanding postdoc making an impact at CWRU or in their field? Nominate them to be featured in this series.

In the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, postdoctoral student Saudagar Dongare has one main focus: effectively capturing CO2. He’s working alongside Burcu Gurkan’s team in the Energy Lab at Case Western Reserve University to develop functional sorbents—such as ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents—for high CO2 capture capacity.

Born and raised in Maharashtra, India, Dongare completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering and, in 2021, earned his PhD from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, India. He arrived at CWRU in January 2022. 

Here, he leads the CO2 electrochemical reduction subgroup meetings in Gurkan’s group. In the first year of his postdoc, he worked for Gurkan’s American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF). Then he worked for the Center for Closing the Carbon Cycle, an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) of the U.S. Department of Energy, led by University of California, Irvine. Dongare delivered a flash talk at the 2023 Principal Investigators’ Meetings, organized by EFRC of the U.S. Department of Energy in September. 

Results of his postdoctoral research work at CWRU has been published in ACS Catalysis, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Chemical Society. He also contributed to other research articles related to energy storage and electrochemical gas sensor. An article he co-authored was published as cover art in European journal Angewandte Chemie. Dongare also actively contributes to the scientific community as a reviewer for several prestigious journals, including the Journal of CO2 Utilization, Chemical Engineering Journal, Fuel, and Materials Chemistry and Physics.

1. What has been your best experience so far as a CWRU postdoc?

My experience as a postdoc has been great so far and exceptionally rewarding. Working with Prof. Burcu Gurkan in the Energy Lab has been a wonderful opportunity, as I am surrounded by amazing colleagues who are very helpful and supportive in all aspects. 

One of the highlights of my time here has been the exposure to meet the amazing academics and scientists in my department through weekly seminars and other events, which have allowed me to learn a lot of exciting things both actively and passively. 

Career series webinars organized by the postdoc office and CWRU Postdoc Association have proven invaluable in addressing many of the questions I’ve encountered along the way. Furthermore, I have had the privilege to attend the 242nd Electrochemical Society Meeting in Atlanta and the American Chemical Society’s fall 2023 meeting in San Francisco and present my research work. 

I was also selected from a competitive pool of applications to attend a week-long workshop on the “Next Generation Electrochemistry (NGenE)-2023” hosted at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Attending all of these prestigious events helped me expand my professional network and established connections with prominent scientists as well as fellow postdocs and researchers from National Labs and other academic institutes.

2. What’s your best piece of advice on how postdocs can make the most of their postdoc career and prepare for their future goals?

Here, I would like to quote my mentor, Prof. Burcu Gurkan who mentioned this in our very first group meeting: “We are working on very difficult problems that nobody has solved. If we don’t work on it, who will? Who is going to solve the problem?” In my opinion, this question should resonate with everyone to start acting immediately. 

Case Western Reserve has world-class research facilities and expertise. As a postdoc, I strongly recommend taking advantage of these research facilities, work harder, and publish the research work as much as you can to make your resume stand out. Postdocs should not treat their training period like a 9-5 job, but spend most of their time improving the skills in the areas of analytic thinking, learning new research techniques, and public presentations. 

Volunteer yourself in a research paper and proposal writing with your mentor, and improve your skills by utilizing mentor expertise. I also encourage participating in all the career events organized by the postdoc office and CWRU, as these opportunities are invaluable for personal and professional development. 

Furthermore, aim to attend all prestigious conferences within your field and expand your professional network. Lastly, as you embark on your job search, maintain an open-minded and flexible approach.