Meet CTC: Maliheh Shaban Tameh


maliheh sitting on a couch with a computer

April 7, 2021 -- Maliheh Shaban Tameh was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, which is the capital of the country. Maliheh earned a bachelor’s degree in solid state physics from Tarbiat Moallem University, located in her hometown. Afterward, she obtained a master degree in physics—specifically quantum field theory—at Shahid Beheshti University, also in Tehran. She then pursued her passion in computational mathematics as a researcher in the Department of Computer Science at Shahid Beheshti University. Maliheh earned her Ph.D. in Computational Science from the Department of Scientific Computing at Florida State University in 2018.

After earning her Ph.D., Maliheh joined the Goodpaster group at the University of Minnesota as a postdoctoral researcher. She stayed in this role until January 2021, when she joined Professor Ess’s group as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Brigham Young University.

While in the Goodpaster group, her research focused on the electronic structure study of transparent conducting oxides (TCOs), which are often used in solar cells and have both transparent and conducting properties. SnO2 sensors react to gas and target molecules assigned to surface reaction mechanisms occurring at the oxide surface. Maliheh has widely explored these mechanisms computationally using quantum chemistry techniques. She discovered that these materials are uniquely challenging and developed computational protocols that allow for their accurate modeling. She also explored modeling film growth processes at the atomistic level of detail in order to address key roles in defining the optimal process conditions to design precursors. This was performed in close coordination with experimentalist Professor Wayne Gladfelter.

Maliheh’s research has been primarily focused on modeling and computational science. She combined advanced computing capabilities with design, implementation, and theory. She also used physical and mathematical models to understand, analyze, and solve complex problems in science and engineering.

Outside of her research, Maliheh enjoys cooking, fishing, playing racquetball, spending time with her family, and reading books, especially those from famous playwrights. She also likes to study at night because: “It’s the time that new ideas come to my mind,” she said.


maliheh sitting at table smiling

How did you become interested in studying chemistry?

I have a multidisciplinary background in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. I learned about physical and computational chemistry during my Ph.D. program when I developed methods based on the physics and chemistry of materials and chemical reactions. This is when I realized I wanted to focus on chemistry instead of the other disciplines. Becoming a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota became a goal of mine and I pursued that.

Why did you choose the University of Minnesota, and what led you to join the Goodpaster research group?

The University of Minnesota is a highly-ranked institution at the forefront of chemistry. I became familiar with some fantastic research in computational chemistry conducted by Professor Goodpaster while completing my Ph.D., so I wanted to join his group after earning my degree.

What is your favorite part about living in the Twin Cities?

The Twin Cities have beautiful lakes and they have something for everyone, from culture to restaurants and bakeries. I personally like walking downtown in the summer. The vibrancy on both sides of the Mississippi River offers a great mix of activities and scenic areas.

What do you enjoy most about your research?

While I have explored different research topics over the years, the commonality is the use of modeling and simulation to improve the design, accuracy, and efficiency of products in electronic, chemical, and physical processes. It expands from molecular and catalysis design to generating high-quality simulations.

What are you most proud of about your academic career so far, and what’s one thing you’d like to achieve in the future?

I’m proud of the diverse research experience that I obtained by working around the clock. In the future, I’d like to become a professor and have a large group to conduct research in theory and computation.

What drives you to be a better scientist?

In my view, being a multidisciplinary scientist is the key factor to being a better scientist because we can think widely and link different fields in various areas, while also thinking of new research goals. I can also say communication with other scientists, teachers, and young scholars of different fields drives me to expand and improve my knowledge and experience.

What advice do you have for aspiring scientists?

Do your best and never give up. For those who just started their research: please know that you are not the first one who has failed—nor will you be the last—but life goes on. The key to success is your scientific knowledge, not the number of your publications.


Selected Publications