Written by Mary Anne Schoenhardt
A postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry, Shideh Ahmadi has had a large number of experiences that have brought her to where she is now. With a background in physics, she did her PhD at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, followed by working briefly in Germany. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in chemistry at the University of Calgary and has been at Queen’s since 2018. This multidisciplinary background has brought her a wealth of experience, and whether it be through her career or her life, one theme of her journey could be described as working to understand other people.
Shideh’s research focuses on modeling molecular scale materials to maximize the efficiency of oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions. She is involved in research projects exploring the mechanism of nickel complexes and bismuth modified metal nanoparticles. This helps to understand the relationship between material structure and electrocatalystic behavior, which is essential for understanding reaction mechanisms in fuel cell and catalyst applications. Most of these projects are part of collaborations; Shideh also has some solo projects, but she says it’s the collaborations she enjoys the most. “The best part of my work is communication with other groups, especially experimentalists. This helps me to [make my modeling] more meaningful.” Her research is theoretical, but working with people performing the experiments helps both parties better understand what is happening and why. Shideh’s multidisciplinary background helps her to better collaborate with others and build grounds for future work.
Another large part of Shideh’s career has been her love for teaching. She first had the opportunity complete a teaching certificate while at the University of Calgary. This led her to complete the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education course at Queen’s and then to teach with the Department of Physics. On top of her postdoctoral work at Queen’s, she now teaches chemistry and chemical engineering courses at the Royal Military College of Canada and describes it as “her dream”. She also credits her multidisciplinary background in being able to better understand students and their questions.
A number of groups have been instrumental to Shideh’s experience at Queen’s. She speaks very highly of the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education course for helping her build her teaching dossier, and she describes the Queen’s University International Centre as awesome. “The people there work around the clock to help the international students” she says. Their intercultural awareness workshop is “amazing”; it’s something she learnt a lot from and has recommended to many others. The most significant to Shideh’s experience at Queen’s is the relationship with her supervisor, Dr. Nick Mosey. She describes him as a fantastic leader and someone who is incredibly supportive, providing her with new opportunities for projects and collaborations. “He understands where I am,” she says. Shideh believes her career would not be where it is now without the support that she has received from him and especially from her husband.
“Collaboration, teaching, and research are all things I enjoy” says Shideh. In her time at Queen’s, she has been able to incorporate all three. Through all of these aspects of her career as well as in her day-to-day life, Shideh endeavors to understand where other people are coming from. Understanding people helps to build community, and especially from someone who’s coming from a different country, community is invaluable. “If there’s one thing I can say, it’s to take care of people who come from outside of this country… please welcome new people to your community”