Rizia Bardhan 


Rizia Bardhan '05According to Forbes, odds are that in science, no one “makes it” before reaching age 30.   However, the recently published “Rising Stars of Science – Forbes 30 under 30” list found thirty young researchers nationwide who are beating those odds, already making an impact in science before hitting the big 3-0. 

We’re proud to report that our very own alumna, Rizia Bardhan ‘05 (right), has made this list at the age of 29.  Congratulations to Rizia on her success as a Rising Star of Science!  See her 30 under 30 profile here

We asked Rizia a few questions about her studies, her work, and the impact Westminster has had on her life personally and professionally.  Here’s her profile and what she had to say about her life and career:

Name: Rizia Bardhan
Class Year: 2005
Major: Mathematics and Chemistry

Graduate Degrees and Institutions: Ph.D. Chemistry, 2010, Rice University, Houston, TX

Job Title: Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Describe your current work. 

I am currently developing nanomaterials for energy conversion and energy storage.  Particularly I am designing materials for hydrogen storage. Hydrogen is a clean, renewable energy carrier, the only product of its combustion being water and can store 3X more energy than petrol.  However, storing hydrogen with high volumetric and gravimetric density remains a challenge.  Current options of hydrogen storage are high pressure tanks which are bulky and unsafe for transportation use. My current research focuses on designing nanoscale metal hydrides which can store high density hydrogen, are much safer to use, and can be integrated into a battery-sized fuel cells or devices. 

During my Ph.D. at Rice University my research focused on designing multifunctional nanoparticles for simultaneous targeting, imaging, and treatment of cancer. This work resulted in several published papers and an issued patent.

What role did Westminster play in leading you to your current position/studies?

Westminster College provided me a strong foundation of science and mathematics, fundamental concepts which I use nearly everyday in my research.  I also conducted research with Dr. Frerichs during my senior year which imbibed in me a passion for pursuing research. I am also proud to have received a liberal arts education which, I believe, has made me a strong scientific writer, speaker, and mentor.

What leadership opportunities did you have at Westminster?  In what ways did your Westminster education help you become a leader?

While at Westminster, I was a Resident Advisor, President of the Chemistry Club, Vice-President of the Pi Mu Epsilon National Honorary Mathematics Society, Vice President of the International Club, and a Student Ambassador.  I also tutored and mentored students as a Mathematics and Chemistry tutor. These opportunities helped me hone my leadership skills, made me a strong public speaker, and helped me develop a personable and approachable personality as well as strengthen my professional skills.  These opportunities also taught me how to balance class work with extra curricular activities i.e. time-management skills.

Which of your achievements are you most proud of?  What do you consider your greatest success?

I am really proud to have an opportunity to work at Lawrence Berkeley Lab and to be recognized by Forbes Magazine as “Top 30 under 30” Rising Stars of Science and Innovation”. I am yet to achieve my greatest success. I am currently interviewing for faculty positions and when I get an offer at a top US institution that would be truly emblematic of the excellent education I received, and research skills I developed from Westminster, Rice and Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

How did your Westminster education inspire your achievements?

What successes and achievements do you envision in your future?  What are your goals?
My goal is to be a faculty member in a top 50 university and pursue research and teaching through out my career. An academic career will combine my passion for research and mentoring as well as inspiring students to have a career in science and engineering.  I also aim to strive for top national awards in academia for excellence in research and teaching.

What advice can you offer current Westminster students?

I would especially like to encourage students at Westminster to pursue a graduate degree (M.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.B.A). A graduate degree enables you to put in practice the strong fundamentals that Westminster education provides their students.  A graduate degree will also offer better job opportunities.  I would also like to encourage science majors to pursue research in nanoscience and nanotechnology. This is an exciting field of research in all aspects of innovation from biomedicine to energy storage to electronics with plenty job opportunities being created among large and start-up companies as well as in academia.

I would also like to add a note for international students.  As an international student myself, I know it is especially hard for new international students when they arrive for the first time in this country. I started my roots in the USA at Westminster and the close-knit environment at Westminster gave me strength to pursue a future in the USA.  I am very happy for the decisions I made following the years of Westminster especially going to Rice, where I met my husband, Cary Pint. Cary got his PhD from Rice in Applied Physics and he is also on the Forbes Magazine Top 30 under 30: Rising stars of Science. So I would like to reach out to my fellow international students and encourage them to appreciate the education at Westminster, the close-interactions with their teachers, and the path to success that will start from Westminster.

Rizia was also recently featured in The Indian Express: click here to read the article.