Seyyed Amir Hosseini received his PhD in Chemistry from Indiana University, where he trained with one of the world’s premier organic electrochemists (Dr. Dennis Peters). He then joined the University of Utah in December 2020, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the NSF Center of Organic Synthetic Electrochemistry (CSOE) where he is working in Prof. Henry White’s laboratory.
Amir’s research project is focused on the discovering novel electroorganic transformations and using variety of electroanalytical tools to explore the mechanism of the reaction at the molecular level. Recently, he developed a new synthetic strategy for electrooxidation of alcohols that is refer to as electroreductive oxidation. The general idea is to electrochemically generate highly oxidizing radicals by reduction of a sacrificial reagent, i.e., reduction is used to initiate a desired oxidation reaction. Amir has demonstrated that this process is effective for selective oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes and acids.
- What motivates and inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is understanding how nature behaves and using fundamental science to solve real-world problems. As a mentor and teacher, seeing students’ progress and growth motivates the most and gives me an extra reason to follow my career in academia.
- What interests you most about your research?
My research is mainly focused on making organic molecules using electrical current and understanding the mechanism of organic reactions using analytical and electroanalytical tools. I am fascinated by how molecules behave under reaction conditions and how we can solve the puzzle of reaction mechanisms using advanced analytical tools.
- What do you wish you had known when you first came to Utah?
I wish I knew that Utah is a great state and there are ample opportunities for enjoying nature while doing good research.
- What research topics being explored in the world interest you the most?
I am very intrigued by the use of electrochemistry in sustainable chemistry and decarbonization.
- What do you do for fun outside the lab? How do you handle stress?
For fun, I like working out, hiking, and cooking. I employ several methods to handle stress. First and foremost, I compartmentalize issues and tackle tasks based on their priority. Also, I spend time with my friends and use this opportunity to vent my stress and regain calmness. Finally, long walks help clear my thoughts and decrease my stress.
- What advice do you have for prospective postdocs?
Keep your curiosity, remain positive in the face of scientific failures, build a support group from other postdocs and members of your research group, ferment a positive and constructive relationship with your supervisor, and plan for the next step as early as possible.
- What is the biggest difference between life as a grad student and life as a postdoc researcher?
The most significant difference is the level of expectations and responsibilities: postdocs are expected to be very self-sufficient and be able to mentor grad students while conducting their research, whereas for graduate students learning research ideas and the relevant techniques are the top priorities. The second difference is that postdoc life is much busier than a grad student. The postdoctoral period is short, and usually, the postdoc researcher must conduct several research projects simultaneously, whereas graduate students generally handle one project at a time.
- What do you plan to do after your postdoc?
I want to pursue my career in academia as the principal investigator, where I will mentor the next generation of scientists and help them to enter the world of science.
Equity and inclusion in academic setting is a very important matter for Amir. He is currently serving as the post-doc representative on the DEI committee of the Department of Chemistry. However, his outreach activities are not limited to academia. He volunteers to help new Iranian and Afghan families settling in Salt Lake City. In this role, he assists families who need a translator for taking care of paperwork, enrolling their children in school, and communicating with federal and state officials regarding their urgent needs.