Professor Ali Alavi


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Job title: University Teaching Officer
Division: Department of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Tags: Fellowship: Leadership Fellowship, University of Cambridge
Related theme: Physical Sciences


I received a BA in Natural Sciences, followed by a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Cambridge. My first academic appointment was at Queen's University of Belfast in 1995. I returned to the University of Cambridge in 2000 where I become Reader, and then Professor in 2011. I was elected FRS in 2015.

My Fellowship

My project is to develop a new, highly accurate method to solve large electronic Schrödinger equations using Monte Carlo techniques, suitable for treating strongly correlated molecular and solid state systems. The early stages of this method were developed by myself and my group in Cambridge prior to obtaining the Leadership Fellowship.

The fellowship has enabled me to greatly expand the scope of the methodology, as well as the efficiency of the software used to implement the algorithm, The hope is that this method will become widely used in the field of ab initio calculations, particularly as a reliable and predictive tool.

Motivation to Apply

My primary motivation was to take time off from teaching to devote fully to research. The resources to develop a larger group, with a small cluster has proven very beneficial.

Career benefit of Fellowship

Mainly my allowing the freedom to do the science I like. Interesting ideas have emerged which have caught the attention of my broad field internationally.

Advice for future applicants

This is the opportunity to pursue your dreams, but you have to make your case compelling. In other words, walk to articulate a great vision, which is also realistic and realisable.