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Saudi Chemical Scientist Seeks to Fuel other Women in STEM

The world is desperately in need of environmentally friendly fuels that result in lower levels of carbon emissions. Since 2015, Maryam Altaher has worked as a lab scientist on the cutting edge of such innovations at Aramco’s Research and Development Center. Her team researches formulations that can convert current fuels like gasoline to a more reactive fuel that suits gasoline compression ignition (GCI) engines.

Beaming with pride and passion, she clearly loves what she does. “Lab work is a lot of fun, with long hours and experiments,” she says with a full laugh.

Maryam’s fuel formulation research seeks to enhance the efficiency of the gasoline engine through GCI technology, significantly reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

She has also filed a patent related to minimizing sulfur oxide emissions in engines. Many laws and regulations have been implemented to reduce their effect. Maryam’s invention proposes a solution to capture these harmful emissions onboard vehicles and marine ships.

In addition to her work in the lab, Maryam serves as an active member of the Saudi Arabian International Chemical Sciences Chapter of the American Chemical Society, and as the secretary of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute board of officers. She presents at technical events and conferences and makes a special effort to support other women in STEM.

“I am instinctively self-motivated,” she says. “Regardless of any obstacles, I am inspired by a sense of responsibility.”

Maryam holds a Master’s Degree in Chemical Science from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). To complement her exceptional academic performance, she received a scholarship to Washington State for a nine-month English immersion course, to enhance her language skills. “I believe combining both science and communication makes scientists more accessible to the public,” she says. She applies her teamwork and communication skills throughout her department, leading the research center’s recognition and motivation program, which recognizes employees for remarkable contributions in safety.

Maryam continues to encourage the next generation of scientists by speaking to students at events held by the Saudi Chemical Society. She enjoys being an accessible role model and her mission — or rather her passion — is to provide guidance to other Saudi women who also aspire to succeed in science-related fields. 

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