Today was a day of pride, joy, and a good dose of sadness: After being a key member and cornerstone of the group since May 2014, Atif had his last day in Buffalo today! Atif defended his PhD thesis this past May and (more or less) wrapped up some of his projects over the past few months. Tomorrow, he is heading out to Portland (OR) for the next chapter of his academic career, i.e., to start work as a Postdoc for Schroedinger, Inc..

During his graduate studies, Atif has been spearheading the group’s work on the modeling and design of new high-performance organic polymers for optic and optoelectronic applications, with a particular focus on materials with a high index of refraction. Atif’s research involved the study of optical properties via first-principles quantum chemistry and materials informatics. It is performed in the context of a joint venture with UB CBE’s Professor Chong Cheng, who addresses this problem from an experimental perspective. Atif’s project was designed in the spirit of the Materials Genome Initiative with the goal of facilitating the accelerated discovery of next-generation advanced materials.

Atif has made tremendous contributions and his work promises to have a significant impact on the way materials discovery and design is performed in the future. His research was recognized on numerous occasions. In 2016 alone he received the Professor Emeritus Howard Strauss Memorial Scholarship Award of the UB Engineering Alumni Association, the 1Sα Poster Prize of the Midwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference, the American Physical Society Distinguished Student Travel Award and an Honorable Mention for the Ovshinsky Student Travel Award of the APS Division of Materials Physics, and he was selected as the UB CBE Graduate Student Seminar Speaker. He also won the UB Hackathon and received both a Graduate Student Grant of the Mark Diamond Research Fund and an assortment of other travel and poster awards. Atif’s academic performance at UB was equally outstanding and has been recognized by a Dean’s Fellowship Award.

Atif served as the President of the department’s Graduate Student Association and he was actively involved in furthering the quality of student life, and strived to enrich the educational, cultural, and social experiences for the graduate student population. He is also the founding President of the Computational Science Club and was instrumental in creating and organizing UB’s Annual Symposium on “Job and Career Perspectives for Students in the Computational Sciences”.

Needless to say that Atif is exceptionally smart, enthusiastic, engaged, dedicated, creative, hard-working, productive, and an all around awesome human being. He is a team-player, a friendly and pleasant person, it is fun to work with him, and he is exceedingly open and gracious about including other team members in work he has taken a leadership role in. In short, he has been a valuable and valued member of the group, and we will miss him terribly.

Godspeed and all the best, Atif! Make us proud!