2023-24 Charles E. and Sue K. Young Graduate Student Fellowship Award

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Aamir Hassan Shah

Graduate student Aamir Hassan Shah (Duan group) has been selected to receive the prestigious Charles E. and Sue K. Young Graduate Student Fellowship Award for 2022-23.  

Since 1981, only four exceptional UCLA graduate students per year are chosen by the College Deans to receive this prestigious award which recognizes “outstanding graduate students for exemplary academic achievement, research, and service to the campus and the community.” Each awardee will receive a $10,000 fellowship. 

Brought up in a small village in Pakistan, Aamir overcame many challenges to pursue his education.  As a result of his hard work and persistence, Aamir was accepted to the physical chemistry M. Phil. program at the prestigious Quid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.  It was there, working in the lab of Professor Afzal Shah, that Aamir began his electrochemistry research career, publishing numerous papers in top electrochemistry journals. 

Aamir joined UCLA’s material chemistry graduate program in 2019, working with Professor Xiangfeng Duan on the challenging but crucial issue of electrode-electrolyte interface investigation.

“A highly dedicated and innovative young scientist with extraordinary passion in research, Aamir has made a number of critical advancements in field of electrocatalytic water splitting for green hydrogen production, an increasingly important topic area for renewable energy and sustainable future,” said his advisor Professor Xiangfeng Duan. “Since joining my group, Aamir has made significant research contributions to the fundamental understanding of electrochemical interfaces. His research focuses on investigating the role of local chemical environment in electrochemical energy conversion reactions. Despite its considerable interest, this area of study remains largely elusive due to the lack of surface-specific signaling pathways for unambiguously identifying surface adsorbed species embedded between solid catalyst and bulk electrolytes. To this challenge, Aamir has developed a revolutionary approach that allows to probe the local electrode-electrolyte interface with unpresented insights.” 

In addition to being a talented researcher, Aamir is an excellent communicator, committed to helping students achieve their academic goals. He has worked as a teaching assistant for various UCLA courses, consistently receiving nearly perfect evaluations.  Always eager to engage with others, Aamir’s contributions to UCLA go beyond his academic accomplishments, and he has been an active participant in various community service initiatives, making him a valued member of the UCLA community. 

“Aamir’s selflessness, dedication, and commitment to helping others are truly inspiring, and I have no doubt that this recognition will serve as a powerful motivator for him to continue his outstanding work in the UCLA community,” said Duan group collaborator Professor Yu Huang, Traugott and Dorothea Frederking Endowed Chair in Engineering, Professor & Chair, UCLA Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “Beyond his role as a researcher and teaching assistant, Aamir is a model citizen of UCLA. He is always eager to engage with others, and his friendly and approachable demeanor make him a beloved member of our community.”

As an international student, Aamir has also taken on the important role of ambassador for UCLA in Pakistan. This role has allowed him to connect with students in his home country and promote the benefits of studying at UCLA. His efforts to inspire students to pursue advanced studies at UCLA is a testament to his passion for education and his desire to see others succeed. Aamir has also volunteered his time to give lectures at different universities in Pakistan during a home visit in December 2021.

“Aamir’s commitment to sharing his knowledge and expertise with others is a testament to his passion for education and his desire to make a positive impact in the world,” Duan said. “His efforts have not only helped to advance the field of chemistry but have also inspired others to pursue their own academic goals and aspirations.”

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.