Safia Jilani awarded Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/02/2023) – Dr. Safia Jilani, a postdoctoral associate in Professor Christy Haynes’ lab, has been awarded the prestigious Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The fellowship – which provides support for scholars and future professors to use inclusion and diversity to improve the student experience in higher education – will support Safia and her research for one year.

Safia came to the University of Minnesota in 2022 after earning her PhD in Chemistry at Georgetown University. In the Haynes lab, she works closely with Eleni Spanolios and Riley Lewis on fluorescence and electrochemical measurements of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Safia’s interests in chemistry are both broad and deep in scope. As a scientist, she is interested in learning how to solve real world problems through interdisciplinary methods and collaboration. Some of her broader work and interests include creating and using nanomaterials for fuel cells, creating and using spectroelectrochemical techniques to investigate the mechanisms of fuel cell catalysis, creating and using nanomaterials for ROS sensing for potential medical applications, and investigating invisible work and its impact in science academia.

Safia’s research under the Ford Foundation Fellowship will focus on designing a new class of ROS probes out of nanomaterials. ROS are generated in human cells, but in excess they can be linked to various illnesses. Designing a probe that can measure ROS quantitatively and spatially in human cells will help improve biomedical diagnostic tools. In addition to her primary project, she is also investigating the types and quantities of invisible work done in chemistry academia. Invisible work disproportionately affects women, BIPOC, and other minoritized groups; Safia’s study aims to acquire qualitative and quantitative statistical data that can be used to advocate for more equity and inclusion in higher education.

The Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship provides one year of support for individuals engaged in postdoctoral study after the attainment of a PhD or ScD. The fellowships are awarded in a national competition administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation. The awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level in the US, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.