Professor of Materials Chemistry, Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer 2016, and patron of Humanists UK
“Despite what my names implies, I think I’ve been a humanist since my late teens. Through science I discovered the beauty of gaining knowledge through evidence and reason. And through progressive causes I was introduced to human rights and social justice.”
Saiful Islam is Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath. He grew up in Crouch End, north London and obtained his Chemistry degree and PhD from University College London, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Eastman Kodak Labs in New York, USA. He returned to the UK to the University of Surrey, before joining the University of Bath in 2006.
Saiful presented the 80th anniversary Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2016 for BBC TV on the theme of energy; the lectures were entitled ‘Supercharged: Fuelling the Future’, and achieved over 3.5 million interactions through the BBC broadcasts and social media.
His research interests include advanced computer modelling studies of new materials for clean energy technologies particularly lithium batteries and perovskite solar cells. He has presented more than 65 invited talks at international conferences, and has around 190 publications.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and has received several awards for his research including the RSC Peter Day Award for Materials Chemistry (2017) and the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013-2018).
He has served on the Diversity Committee of the Royal Society, and was selected for the Royal Society’s ‘Inspiring Scientists’ project that recorded the life stories of ten British scientists with minority ethnic heritage in partnership with National Life Stories at the British Library.
He lives in central Bath with his wife, Gita (a local GP), and their two children. His outside interests include family breaks, indie music (The Smiths et al.), progressive politics, football, and the chemicals gin & tonic.
In an interview in The Guardian in 2016 he said:
I think science is beautiful and you can actually find out more about the mysteries of the world through rational investigation and through reasoned thought and observation… my name obviously comes from my parents and that illustrates where a lot of religion comes from. Most people are the religion of their parents, and they are the religion of their grandparents… so it is passed down by authority and parents.
Two articles in The Guardian (2016) mentioning his humanism/atheism: