Headshot of Mohamed Attia

Mohamed Attia is a postdoc in the College of Science’s department of chemistry.
Image Credit: College of Science

CLEMSON – A chemist who uses miniature materials to make big discoveries is Clemson University’s top postdoctoral fellow in 2020.

Mohamed Attia has been awarded the Clemson University Distinguished Postdoctoral Award, which recognizes outstanding performance in scientific research, leadership, advocacy, outreach and teaching.

“I feel very honored and flattered to receive this honor. It’s awesome!” said Attia, who has been a postdoc in the College of Science’s department of chemistry for the past two years. “Personally, it means that I am on the right path and it also serves to acknowledge the extent of my efforts. This is going to motivate me to continue to work hard and advance my career as a scientist.”

Attia received his bachelor’s degree (2003) in chemistry from Sohag University and master’s degrees (2008) in chemistry from Cairo University. In 2016, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Strasbourg. Prior to starting his Ph.D., he served as a visiting researcher in the ITODYS laboratory at Paris Diderot University “Sorbonne-Paris 7” in France.

Attia came to Clemson in 2017 and spent his first 18 months under the mentorship of Frank Alexis in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science’s department of bioengineering. In 2018, he assumed his current position in the chemistry department under the mentorship of Dan Whitehead.

“Dr. Alexis and Dr. Whitehead are both very open to innovation,” Attia said. “Together, we explored new research activities and initiated several collaborations and publications.”

“Mohamed has been an extraordinary and highly productive postdoctoral researcher,” added Whitehead, an associate professor of organic chemistry at Clemson. “He brought new expertise and techniques to bear in my laboratory that allowed us to solve problems that were otherwise intractable. I am delighted to see him receive this honor, and I look forward to seeing his independent career take off.”

Attia in lab

Attia’s body of work includes being lead author of an article in a major journal.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Attia was lead author on one of the collaborative publications with Whitehead, which was titled “In situ preparation of gold–polyester nanoparticles for biomedical imaging.” The article was featured on the cover of the June 7, 2020 issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Biomaterials Science journal.

“I am thankful to the Clemson community, which provided me with motivated and professional leaders and collaborators,” said Attia, who will receive a $500 award and a plaque for his achievement. “Since I came here, my mentors and other faculty and staff of both bioengineering and chemistry have supported me and encouraged me to succeed.”

“A postdoctoral associate is akin to an apprentice. We are very fortunate to have in Mohamed and his research advisor, Dan Whitehead, two very intelligent and creative chemists who work together so well,” added William Pennington, chair of the department of chemistry. “They have consistently been able to produce together much more than either could have done alone.”

Attia and his wife Zhra have two sons, Ammar, 9, and Noureldin, 2. His future as a husband, father and scientist is certain to keep him busy.

“Today, the speed of medical development opens perspectives that are far beyond what we expected two decades ago,” Attia concluded. “In my future career, I will be focusing on the emerging clinical nanomedicine that will have a predominant role in its character as cross technology for designing promising theranostic nanosystems. This will offer potential solutions for many of the current challenges in targeting, diagnosing and treating disease in patients experiencing a wide range of cancers and other illnesses.”