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Meet Syud Momtaz Ahmed

Meet Syud Momtaz Ahmed, a scientist at 3M and tabla player!

Hi, I'm Syud Momtaz Ahmed!

What do you work on?

I currently work as a Senior Scientist at 3M. My role focuses on developing new products and technologies that impact the Safety and Graphics Business. Examples of some of the products we work on include personal protection products; traffic safety and security products; commercial graphics sheeting and systems; architectural surface and lighting solutions; cleaning and protection products for commercial establishments, roofing granules for asphalt shingles, and track and trace solutions.
During my time here at 3M, I've helped commercialize numerous products you might see every day—floor coatings that might be used in your favorite grocery store so that the floor is easy to maintain and looks good; a glass cleaner that might be used at your school, and even a peelable anti-slip coating to make sure you don’t slip on the wet floor when you’re walking through the mall.

How did you become interested in chemistry, and what did you study?

I loved playing with Legos from a very young age. The fact that I could put together different pieces and have it shape into something I had envisioned was not only fascinating, but also invigorating. It was during my first organic chemistry class in college that I started making connections between chemistry and my love for Legos - through chemistry, I realized I would still be able to make something tangible based on my vision, except in this case the building blocks were molecules or atoms. That was pretty exciting for me!
I completed my bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics at Wabash College in Indiana, and went on to do a Ph.D. in chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Once I was done with school, I realized I wanted to use what I learned to make things that had real world applications, which is primarily why I chose my current career path. It is very exciting to walk through an airport, hotel, school or grocery store and see products I made/helped make being used and making a difference in people’s lives.

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

Music is an integral part of my life. I’ve been playing a South Asian percussion instrument, the tabla, from a very young age and look for every opportunity to play. I had previously accompanied multiple renowned artists, friends and bands (specifically a band named AJOB) in my home country of Bangladesh. It’s my favorite hobby.
Playing the tabla!
I also love biking—I try to fit in a ride here and there around some of the lakes here in the Twin Cities. I’ve done a century ride with my friends once while I was Ithaca (a century ride is 100miles or more). I usually stick to rides between 25 to 50 miles at a moderate pace.

What's your one piece of advice for people interested in chemistry?

The true beauty of chemistry is learning through experiments and conducting research—if you’re really interested in chemistry, I encourage you to talk to your teachers (and in some cases a grown up) at school/home to see if there are any (safe) experiments you can try out together, or talk to chemistry professors at a nearby college/university and learn more about the research they do in their labs. You can even talk to a chemist that works at a nearby company to hear about the things they do. This exposure would give you a better understanding of what chemistry is really all about and its application in the real world.
Tax in the lab setting up experiments in lab!
Demonstrating the true beauty of chemistry: learning through experiments and doing research in the lab!

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