Faculty Spotlight

Meet Your Professor: Mariam Ismail

Where did you go to college, and what did you study?

Headshot of Mariam Ismail

I went to Umass for my undergrad where I studied chemistry, and Northeastern University for my PhD in Chemical Engineering.

Tell us about your role at Simmons.

I'm an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics. I teach "General Chemistry," "Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry," and "Quantum Mechanics." I love being able to teach all levels — first-year students to seniors. Recently, I began my role as Program Director for the new 3+2 Engineering program.

Do you have a favorite course you teach?

I'm lucky to love all the courses that I teach. It's hard for me to pick a favorite because every class has its beauty. I'm introducing students to concepts they'll need throughout their careers as science majors in "General Chemistry." I see a lot of "ah-ha" moments in this course.

In “Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry,” I get to integrate my research into the curriculum, which adds another layer of excitement for the students and me.

“Quantum Mechanics” is one of those subjects that brings together your entire sequence of courses (math, chemistry, and physics) into one course. Students generally fear this course at first, but I think they appreciate how involved and brilliant chemistry truly is after going through it.

What's your favorite thing about Simmons?

My favorite thing about Simmons is the sense of community and how invested the faculty and staff are in our students. That was what stood out the most when I interviewed for this position — and it still holds true to this day.

What inspired you to work in chemistry and academia?

Chemistry is the foundation of life. It helps us understand why things are the way they are. This is what drew me to this subject at a young age, and of course, having educators that were passionate about it. I decided to pursue a career in academia, particularly at a primarily undergraduate institution, because I'm passionate about the development of young scholars. The undergraduate period is a time when most students are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives. To be able to partake in shaping their lives is truly rewarding.

Is there any research you've been conducting lately?

My research group is focused on the synthesis and engineering of visible light active photocatalysts for environmental remediation. Photocatalysts are metal oxides that can be activated under light energy, allowing for a series of chemical reactions to occur. The reactions that we're targeting include wastewater remediation, reduction of greenhouse gases such as CO2, and production of H2 gas as an alternative fuel source. You can visit my website to learn more about the work of The Ismail Research Group.

If we visited your home office, what would we see?

Plants and books everywhere!

What's the last book you read?

The last book that I read was How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. I highly recommend it!

Is there a TV show you're currently binging?

I recently started watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix. I just got through season one!

Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for students this semester?

Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Begin each day with a fresh start and do your best, while also being kind to yourself.

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