UB - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Chemical and Biological Engineering


Mohammad Atif Faiz Afzal Ph.D. Student

 portrait of student Atif

I first got interested in materials science when I started working as an undergraduate researcher with Prof. Kantesh Balani at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. After completing my undergraduate studies, I decided to further explore the field of materials research and became a Research Associate in the group of Prof. Ashutosh Sharma. Prof. Sharma’s connection to the UB CBE department, its excellent research program, and its world-renowned faculty motivated me to move to Buffalo for my PhD. I am now working with Prof. Johannes Hachmann in the area of computational materials design. I am particularly interested in the rational development of new molecular materials with exceptional properties by means of first-principles quantum chemistry and molecular modeling. My current project concerns the in silico assessment of organic polymers for optical applications. The goal of this work is to develop – in a joint venture with our experimentalist partner Prof. Chong Cheng – innovative new materials that will outperform the ones used in current devices.

I believe that CBE provides an excellent environment to achieve my goals: UB has an array of new research centers and institutes, which have introduced an exciting dynamic. There are many prominent faculty involved in the various aspects of computational research, who are all very engaged and helpful. Prof. Hachmann constantly encourages his students to excel in their research, coursework, and career development, and he provides us with endless opportunities to do so.

I also love the atmosphere in the department and its exceedingly supportive and collegial spirit. As the president of the department’s graduate student association, I have the opportunity to interact with fellow graduate students from diverse cultural backgrounds, and I enjoy every bit of this experience. While we all strive for excellence at UB CBE, there is no heightened sense of competition, which means that I can concentrate on my research, and enjoy doing so in a friendly and collaborative setting. On top of all that, Buffalois a great place to live and has much to offer; from history and culture to festivals, sports and entertainment.

“UB CBE provides a plethora of research opportunities and a friendly, peaceful and collaborative environment, creating a sense of community among its graduate students.”

- Atif