Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Abdelrahman Ismail

Abdelrahman Ismail in formal clothing, standing in a field with trees in background
Abdelrahman Ismail – Chemistry

It’s hard to fathom how the start of my chemistry journey was a full decade ago when I was in high school. Back then, I had no idea this path would take me where I am today. Time seems to have flown by when I look to the past, but it slows down to a snail’s pace when I look towards the future, and with that long, bountiful future ahead of me, it makes my journey all the more worth it.

I graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in spring 2019 and started my PhD here in Michigan Tech in the fall of the same year. My research is about understanding the substrate preferences of cellular sugar transporters, which would enable selective drug targeting of those transporters and allow for new treatments and diagnostic tools for many diseases including cancers. This work involved synthetic organic synthesis of novel compounds, analytical purification and characterization of those compounds, in-vitro pharmacological studies of those compounds on live cancer cells, and computational chemistry studies of the transporter-compound interactions. This monumental project required in-depth expertise in all of those different domains of chemistry, and despite initially thinking of myself as a pure organic chemist, taking on this challenge helped me grow into a well-rounded interdisciplinary scientist, and that is my biggest and most important prize out of my time in Tech.

My heartfelt thanks to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for the high honor and privilege of this award. Special thanks to Dr. Athar Ata, the chemistry department chair, for his generous support and excellent leadership. But most of all, I want to thank Dr. Marina Tanasova, my PhD advisor and graduate program director, for everything she’s done for me. She gave me and my colleagues in our research group all the freedom, independence, and room for growth that we need to flourish, and yet she was always there for us and guided us onto the path to success. She always believed in us, pushed us to question our limits, think critically, and deliver impactful and groundbreaking science. After mingling with my peers in the industry and hearing about their advisors, it further reinforced my thankfulness. It was a pleasure being part of her research group.

One response to “Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Abdelrahman Ismail

  1. Congratulations to Abdelrahman Ismail on receiving the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship for Summer 2024! His journey from high school to a PhD at Michigan Tech, focusing on groundbreaking research in chemistry, is truly inspiring. Special thanks to his advisor, Dr. Marina Tanasova, for her incredible support and mentorship. Well done, Abdelrahman!

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