P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


David Hanifi, 2014

PhD, Stanford University

David Hanifi is the child of immigrants from Afghanistan

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Chemistry at Stanford University

David grew up in Maine, the child of Afghan refugees who had fled Russia's invasion of Afghanistan. His family at first questioned the practicality of David's choice to pursue a career in academic research. They have, however, come to appreciate his love of chemistry.

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, David worked on projects involving nanocrystal composites and the fluorescent labeling of zebrafish embryo cells. Arguably, his most profound achievements came while teaching basic chemistry. David wowed middle schoolers through local science demonstrations, and he and a partner devised a student-run course called Chemistry of Cooking, through which students not only learned chemistry but ate their experiments.

Now a first year student in the Materials Science department at Stanford University, David aims to use his chemistry research to address climate change. He plans to study optoelectronic materials and develop low-cost quantum dot films that, if successful, could replace traditional solar powered devices for a fraction of the cost. Since Stanford's Material Sciences department was instrumental in designing the current generation of solar power technology, David considers himself well placed to be on the cutting edge of future innovations.
  • PhD Chemistry | Stanford University 2017
  • BS Chemistry | University of California, Berkeley 2010
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