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Chemistry PhD selected as 2024 Outstanding Graduate Student for The College

Anuja Sharma

Anuja Sharma

April 30, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

On May 6, during ASU’s Graduate Commencement at Desert Financial Arena, Anuja Sharma will be awarded as an ASU Outstanding Graduate student for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – Natural Sciences, graduating with a PhD in chemistry, from ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences.

“The most impressive aspect of Anuja’s research has been the breadth of investigations that she has been able to lead,” said Associate Professor Ryan Trovitch, Sharma’s advisor. “For example, she has demonstrated the ability to develop new catalysts, prepare them on scale for industrial partnerships, achieve unprecedented turnover frequencies for reductive and dehydrogenative reactions, and demonstrate that the products could be used for applications ranging from coatings to high temperature materials. “

During her time as a graduate student at ASU, Sharma has published four papers in reputed scientific journals. She is the first author on three of them, and has a fifth article that is currently under review at Green Chemistry.

Sharma has been listed as an inventor on one provisional patent application as well as a second disclosure that is under review at Skysong Innovations. She has presented five posters and two talks at conferences.

In addition to bridging the fields of chemistry, engineering and materials science, Sharma contributed to collaborative projects with SABIC (the world’s third largest chemical supplier) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the latter of which sparked her interest in semiconductor manufacturing and led to her new role designing deposition tools for ASM International.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I was introduced to chemistry in my 9th grade with the topic “Periodic Table” and my teacher explained the topic so beautifully that I was spellbound by the beauty of periodic table and how beautifully it is organized the way it is. The trends that we observe as we go up, down, left or right and why we observed that made me realize that this is one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Being at ASU has surely helped me build my confidence. People here are so helpful that it did not take me much time to fit in and make friends. Also, the resources offered by ASU to the students are mind-blowing. Even after five years at ASU I have not used all the resources offered by ASU free of cost.

Five years of grad school has definitely made me stoic, cause somedays you get great results in the lab and somedays you have terrible data. But this has taught me to be stoic in every situation, cause you have both kinds of days.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose the School of Molecular Sciences at ASU because the school not just focuses on chemistry but has spread its roots to other interdisciplinary fields. The unit had both fundamental and application-based research labs that gave a range of options for potential collaboration between the labs.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: My advisor, Professor Ryan J. Trovitch had a very influential and key role to play during my time at ASU. His course on organometallic chemistry is the best course I have taken at ASU and that course has helped me a lot with my research work to develop a novel base-metal catalyst. Apart from being a great mentor, he is also a great role model for me. His knowledge in the subject and his quick response to problem solving still surprises me, but at the same time is so humble and down-to-earth and very approachable. He is such a great mentor that I wish I could work with him forever.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: This is the advice that my teacher (Marazban Kotwal) in undergrad gave me, “When going gets tough the tough get going.” And I think people should not lose hope when things get difficult.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? (For online students: What was your favorite spot for power studying?)

A: I spent most of my time in the lab at Biodesign C and that is my favorite place as well. The Trovitch lab in (Biodesign C) was my first home and my lab mates were my family away from home. I used to spend most of my time in the lab because I felt so happy and secure performing my reactions and grabbing coffee with my mentors and friends in the break room, sharing ideas and having great conversations.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am currently working at ASM Phoenix as a senior process engineer.

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