Post Date
Apr 15 2024

Dr. Usman Bin Shahid joins the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering as Assistant Professor

Muhammad Ahmad Kashif (Carl Sagan Intern, 4th Cohort)

The Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) at LUMS is thrilled to welcome Dr. Usman Bin Shahid, as an assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Dr. Usman's early fascination with chemical engineering was kindled by his father, a seasoned chemical engineer whose passion for the field was infectious. His academic journey took him across continents, from completing his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at McGill University, Canada, with distinction to earning his Master's in Sustainable Environment from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar. This in turn ended up earning him a highly competitive Ph.D. scholarship at the prestigious Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).  


Dr Usman Bin Shahid (center), accompanied by his parents, at his BS graduation ceremony at McGill University

Dr. Usman's research focuses on developing sustainable processes for transforming waste materials into useful products. His work exemplifies sustainability principles, possessing promising real-world applications in the chemical industry.

For his Ph.D. research, Dr. Usman was initially hoping to extend the research from a 2014 paper in the journal ‘Science’ by another group. However, replicating their findings proved impossible. Their ammonia detection was compromised by nitrate contamination in the catalyst, leading to inconsistent and unreproducible results.

Leveraging the setback as a learning experience, he pivoted his research towards nitrate reduction to ammonia instead. This new direction led to the development of a novel catalyst and electrolytic system that showcased high efficiencies (92%), marking a significant advancement in sustainable synthesis of ammonia.  In addition to the high efficiency, this new catalyst also lowered the energy requirements by ~50% compared to nickel foil, demonstrating the economic viability of the system. Such a system can be readily integrated into existing wastewater treatment processes to upcycle waste nitrates into a value-added commodity like ammonia (or its’ derivatives). Stressing the importance of challenges, he states, “Had I not gone through that phase, I may not have been, you know, the person I am today…"

Dr. Usman Bin Shahid with his Ph.D. supervisor, Prof. Minhua Shao (HKUST).  


Dr. Usman kept a keen eye on SBASSE's Chemical Engineering program since its inception in 2018. The timing was impeccable when he found an opening just around the time, he completed his Ph.D. 

Despite remarkable international exposure and collaborations, Dr. Usman’s decision to return to Pakistan and join LUMS  was propelled by his deep-seated desire to contribute to the nation's development. He recalls taking part in a leadership program during his Master’s. During an exercise, the participants were encouraged to envision themselves in 10 years' time and write a headline to go along with that vision. “Revolutionizing the Education System in Pakistan” is what Dr Usman noted down on his paper. SBASSE, he believes is the right place to be able work towards an education system where practical knowledge transcends textbook learning, preparing students to solve real-world problems with innovation and critical thinking.

Dr. Usman Bin Shahid channeling expertise into knowledge and innovation at the LUMS chemistry lab