Mariam Ismail

Mariam Ismail

Lead Materials Engineer
Viridis 3D
Mariam Ismail
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Mariam Ismail, Lead Materials Engineer at Viridis3D LLC, a Massachusetts-based ceramic 3D printing start-up, received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2011. Throughout her work at the Center for Advanced Microgravity Materials Processing Center (NASA-sponsored Lab, Northeastern University), she developed a novel method for the synthesis of vanadosilicate AM-6 for enhanced visible light photocatalysis. Her work resulted in 10 scientific journal publications and over a dozen national and international conference proceedings. Throughout her career, Dr. Ismail has been the recipient of several awards, including the American Institute of Chemists award for Outstanding Graduate Student in 2011, and the YCC/NESACS-JCF/GDCh Exchange to Germany Program in 2009. In 2014, she was invited to attend an MPAC-hosted event at The White House celebrating Muslim Woman Emerging Leaders in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Dr. Ismail is also adjunct faculty to the Chemistry & Physics Department at Simmons College, Boston, MA, where she teaches a variety of undergraduate chemistry courses. Mariam loves hiking, running, and spending time with her family and friends.
PhD, Chemical Engineering, 2011, Northeastern University. BS, Chemistry, 2006, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Dr. Mariam Ismail

Hi Sophie, 

Let me first start off by saying all your fears, others feel too! College can be intimidating at first and it's normal to feel things like "I'm not creative enough" "Everyone around me is a genius". But what you need to realize is that you also got accepted to the same program that these other "geniuses" did! Which makes you just as smart if not smarter than they are. Never compare yourself to anyone else. Do your best and work on defeating that voice inside your head that tells you you're not smart enough, or good enough. 

Secondly, my advice to you is to reach out to others that majored in what you're thinking of majoring in. For example, chemical engineers or even chemists. There are a lot of jobs out there for both, but it really depends on what you see yourself doing. Innovation is not the only avenue for an engineer/scientist. There are so many different jobs out there. 

Why don't you tell me what you'd ideally love to do and we can take it from there?

Also, keep in mind you're free to switch majors as often as you'd like. I for one got my BS in Chemistry then switched to Chemical Engineering for my PhD because I wanted something more applied. It's never too late to make the switch :)

Hello Vidhi,
I wouldn't necessarily say chemical engineers suffer from allergies due to exposure of strong chemicals. Most companies are well equipped with proper chemical hygiene, so as long as you're wearing proper personal protective equipment you should be ok. Also, chemical engineering jobs range from R&D (lab work) to consulting or applications engineering (almost no lab work). 

Best of luck!
Mariam Ismail

Hi Mariah!
That's great that you're enjoying math and chemistry. You can do so much as an engineer. There are several companies that deal with cosmetics and fashion that need engineers and scientists expertise. Maybe you could intern at one of those companies before choosing your college major? Living Proof in Cambridge MA is one that I can think of.

Best of luck!

Hi Alexis,
Happy to see you considering an engineering field. I'm a chemist/chemical engineer. By that I mean I did my undergraduate degree in chemistry, then switched over to chemical engineering for my graduate studies. As an undergrad though, I always gravitated towards engineering (however, was a junior by the time I found my true calling so decided to just switch to engineering for graduate studies). I did my undergraduate research for a chemical engineer in the field of water purification. I was lucky enough to find my passion in energy and environmental work. For my graduate studies, I chose chemical engineering because of the wide applications it covers. But also, I was able to find a research group who's interested were in line with mine. Currently, I work for an MIT start-up, 1366 Technologies, where I develop processes aiming at delivering solar at the cost of coal. It's been a very rewarding experience thus far. I believe what matters in you choosing your field is where you think you can make the most impact. Following your passions is key. You could also begin your undergraduate studies undecided (but on the engineering track), work in a few labs to figure out where your passions lie, and then choose your field. As you can see, it's never too late to switch fields. What's important and will make you successful, is following your passions.
I've been very fortunate to have no have faced any discrimination throughout my career. Although I was almost always one of the few women in a conference room, sometimes even the only one, I find it empowering to have earned my spot in this field. You have to prove yourself, but once you do, your male coworkers will truly value your opinion and viewpoint. But, that is the case in any field you choose.

Best of luck! And remember, follow your passions, work hard, and everything else will fall into place.