An environmental engineer who has made important contributions to clean-water research and served as a leader for his peers is winning Clemson University’s top award for postdoctoral fellows.

Mohamed Ateia is receiving this year’s Clemson University Distinguished Postdoctoral Award, an honor that recognizes outstanding performance in scientific research, leadership, advocacy, outreach and teaching.

Mohamed Ateia, right, and Weija Yu, a visiting Ph.D. student from the University of Copenhagen, work at L.G. Rich Environmental Laboratory.

Mohamed Ateia, right, and Weija Yu, a visiting Ph.D. student from the University of Copenhagen, work at L.G. Rich Environmental Laboratory.

Ateia has collaborated on several research projects in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. His advisor is Tanju Karanfil, Clemson’s vice president for research and a faculty member in the department.

While at Clemson, Ateia has published 13 peer-reviewed articles, written four proposals for research funding and mentored 13 undergraduate and graduate students. He also served as president of the Clemson Postdoctoral Association, an organization that connects and unifies the university’s postdoctoral scholars.

“I believe there is life outside the lab,” Ateia said. “I like doing research a lot, but I also like human interactions. I try to collaborate and communicate with people– share ideas.”

Ateia found Clemson while working on his Ph.D. at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Ateia said that his work tracked closely with research that Karanfil had done, so he asked him to collaborate.

Karanfil agreed and the result was “Elucidating Adsorptive Fractions of Natural Organic Matter on Carbon Nanotubes.” The article was published in 2017 with four additional authors in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Read the full article here.

Karanfil said that Ateia is highly deserving of the Distinguished Postdoctoral Award.

“I have worked with many postdoctoral fellows in my career, and Mohamed is among the very best,” Karanfil said. “His productivity is excellent for a postdoctoral fellow, he has an exemplary record and he has impressed his colleagues with his leadership skills. I offer my hearty congratulations.”

Ateia received a Bachelor of Science in environmental and agricultural engineering from Alexandria University in Egypt. He then went to Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he received a Master of Science and a Ph.D., both in environmental engineering.

While working on his Ph.D., he served as a visiting researcher in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Ateia joined Clemson in November 2017. His research touched on a wide range of water-quality issues, including poly- and perfluorinated carbons, electrochemical peroxide production and removing illicit drugs from water. His specialty is in adsorption and photocatalytic degradation. 

Ateia’s awards while at Clemson include the Certificate of Merit from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Environmental Chemistry and the Outstanding Presentation Award during the American Chemical Society’s 257th National Meeting and Exposition.

Ateia and his family will soon head for the Chicago area, where he will serve as a research associate in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University. Ateia and his wife, Meric, have two sons, Yusuf, 2, and Emir Bilge, 1.

Ateia said that his start date at Northwestern, Nov. 1, will come exactly two years after his start date at Clemson.

David Freedman, chair of the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, said that he wishes Ateia well as he moves to the next chapter of his career.

“Dr. Ateia will increase Clemson University’s visibility as an institution that nurtures the development of postdoctoral fellows who seek careers in academia,” Freedman said. “This award is well-deserved, and I congratulate him.”