2005 – Ph.D. in Chemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
2001 – MSc (Hons) in Organic chemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
1999 – BSc (HS) in Chemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
One of the original founders of Sona, Kulbir is an expert in metal nanoparticle fabrication and surface chemistry.
He has 15 years’ experience in colloidal chemistry and is a named author on 35 research papers and patents. At Sona, Kulbir is responsible for new product development and leading experimentation projects with collaboration partners.
A business-minded scientist, Kulbir has co-founded another consumer company that has developed and commercialised innovative scent-free environmentally friendly products for the education, sport, oilfield, and consumer product markets.
Business: Project management, product development, patent writing, grant applications, investment pitching team management, training
Science: Nanotechnology (including nano-devices and nano-materials), surface chemistry, polymers chemistry, green chemistry, microscopy, chromatography, spectroscopy, particle analysis
Outside of work, Kulbir is a committed family man who likes nothing better than spending time with his wife and two children. He also enjoys playing the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument, reading scientific literature and cooking traditional Indian dishes.
In his own words
“I would like to see people’s lives made easier, especially in developing countries where they don’t have resources. My ambition is to see Sona’s gold nanorod technology used as a treatment in the fight against cancer.”
Originally hailing from India, Kulbir is one of the founders of Sona and its chief technology officer, responsible for product development and manufacture.
What do you like most about working at Sona?
There is a great sense of team spirit at Sona, with everyone pulling in the same direction. We started as a professor and a research scientist trying to find different solutions to a problem, and now we’re on the verge of listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It’s been a bumpy journey, with financial and personnel issues along the way, but to go from that to where we are is a testament to the passion and perseverance of everyone involved, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
What first inspired you to pursue a scientific career?
As a child, I wanted to be a medical doctor. In grade 9 we had a new science teacher who could see I was interested in the subject and he encouraged me to choose to study science in high school. In high school, science was taught in English and I had learned science in my native language, so the first task for me was to learn scientific English.
I applied to medical school twice, but there were only 450 places and 10,000 people applying, and though I got close it wasn’t close enough.
Then a customer of my dad’s shop told him about a BSC honours course at Guru Nanak Dev University that was designed to let young people from rural areas to advance their career to the highest scientific study level; you would study one topic for three years and then do a masters in that topic. I successfully applied and chose chemistry.
Who is your science hero?
I have four – Madam Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and Michael Faraday. Madam Curie was brilliant, very hard-working and determined, and her achievements are remarkable, especially considering how women in science were treated during her time. Pasteur was an elegant experiment designer. Through his experiments, he disproved the idea of spontaneous generation and moved biology toward growth. For Leeuwenhoek, I like his device design simplicity and passion for device improvement. Please don’t ask me why Michael Faraday is my hero; if he had not looked closely at his colloidal gold I would not be doing nanoscience today – and Sona would not exist.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am very family oriented, so if I’m not working I prefer to spend time with my wife and our two children. I also play the tabla, which is a traditional Indian percussion instrument, and I like to cook. Cooking is very much like chemistry – except you can eat what you make!
If you weren’t a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
It’s only because I went to a poor school in a rural area that I couldn’t fulfil my ambition of being a medical doctor, so if I wasn’t a scientist that’s what I would be. I’m passionate about helping people and making their lives easier, especially those living in developing countries.