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Rutgers graduate students enjoys his transition from industry, is researching sustainable chemical methods

<p>The Rutgers Biology and Chemistry Building on the Busch campus is home to much of the University’s chemistry research.</p>

The Rutgers Biology and Chemistry Building on the Busch campus is home to much of the University’s chemistry research.

Tariq Bhatti, a Ph.D. candidate at the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, continues his studies in chemistry at Rutgers, looking for sustainable solutions, according to an article on Rutgers Today.

Having received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Maryland in 2009, Bhatti said he initially took a job in retail and at his father’s gas station, according to the article. 

He did ultimately find a job as a chemist for the conglomerate, W.R. Grace and Company, according to the article. 

“My last position at Grace was really great,” Bhatti said. “They trusted me with important problems while giving me generous support and mentoring."

But during Bhatti’s five years as an analytical chemist, he felt restless and that he could do more with his abilities and talents, according to the article. 

Eventually, a colleague’s offhand comment changed his way of thinking about his life, Bhatti said, according to the article. 

“He said that if those are the questions that interested me, then I ought to go to graduate school,” he said. “So I did.”

Now, Bhatti has returned to school as a Ph.D. student working on a research team for Alan Goldman, a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, according to the article. 

Bhatti is helping Goldman pursue and conduct research they think could have an enormous impact on the environment and energy production, according to the article. 

“I was really drawn to Dr. Goldman’s lab for the potential for improving the quality of life for society and humanity,” Bhatti said.

Goldman, a 30-year veteran at Rutgers, had also proven to be a top mentor and collaborator for Bhatti, he said. 

“When I walked into Alan’s office for the first time, there were papers everywhere and a chalkboard covered with formulas and drawings of molecules,” Bhatti said. “He was explaining something to me and had to take a moment to pause before deciding which ones he should erase.”

Goldman runs a team of eight graduate and post-doctoral students called "The Goldman Group," according to the article. The group focuses their research on organometallic chemistry, which uses metal atoms and organic molecules to make chemical transformations. 

The team hopes to make chemicals that will use less energy and make less waste, according to the article. An example of these types of chemicals is ammonia, which is used to make fertilizer to help grow global food supply. 

“It’s an important process, obviously, because it allows us to eat,” Goldman said, according to the article. “But it would be nice to do that without the environmental impact.”

Goldman’s group is currently collaborating with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale University in a National Science Foundation-led study to make ammonia that does not rely on fossil fuels, according to the article. 

The team is also working to develop a way to produce clean diesel-fuel, according to the article.

“We are focused on the basic chemistry and where it can take us,” Goldman said. “Whether it can take us to sustainable production of ammonia or to synthetic fuel, we look for important applications of the interesting, fundamental chemistry.” 

Working with this group has made Bhatti happy, and he has enjoyed his transition from industry to academia, according to the article. 

“I have more time to study a particular problem or question and to really understand not just which reaction might work, but why it works and how it works,” he said.

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