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The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has selected Assistant Professor Omar Abdelrahman of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department as one of the “trailblazers” for its prestigious 2023  “35 Under 35 Award.” Abdelrahman and his fellow award winners will each receive a $500 prize, complimentary registration to the 2023 AIChE Annual Meeting, recognition at an awards reception during that meeting, and a complimentary AIChE membership in 2024. 

As the AIChE awards committee said, “Abdelrahman’s research interest focuses on catalysis and reaction engineering. His lab develops and disseminates experimental designs using custom scientific equipment that he builds in-house to help lower the barrier to entry in catalysis research.”

The AIChE committee added that “Growing up in the Middle East influenced his decision to become a chemical engineer. Abdelrahman hopes that his research will help speed the energy transition of the chemical-production sector toward a more-sustainable future. If he wasn’t a chemical engineer, he would have been an historian or economist.”

As the principal investigator for the Abdelrahman Research Group, Abdelrahman said that “Research in our group focuses on developing fundamental understandings relevant to catalytic surfaces and its application to sustainable technologies, facilitating the utilization of existing and non-conventional carbon resources. Interests in the group branch into three main focuses on catalyst discovery, characterization, and kinetic modelling.”

Abdelrahman also explained that “Satisfying the demand for fuels and chemicals via the efficient and sustainable utilization of our carbon resources is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. Catalysis will play a central role in satisfying these vital needs by rendering existing processes more efficient as well as finding novel solutions to satisfy our chemical and energy needs.”

In addition to the AIChE award, Abdelrahman has also received a very high-profile National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2021, a Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation Achievement Award in 2019, and he was recently named a Pioneer of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering by the AIChE-CRE division in 2022.

Abdelrahman earned his B.Sc. from the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, in Chemical Engineering (2011) and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University (2016). He did post-doctoral research in 2018 at the University of Minnesota in Chemical Engineering & Materials Science. (October 2023)

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