Photograph of Syed Islam

Syed Z Islam

R&D Staff Scientist

Dr. Syed Islam is a Staff Scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Prior to joining ORNL in 2018, Dr. Islam worked for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a Postdoctoral Research Associate after completing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky in 2017. Dr. Islam has a wide range of research interests including novel advanced materials and energy-efficient processes for clean energy technologies. The focus of his research is the development of energy-efficient separation technologies for various applications, including gas separations such as CO2 capture and separation and hydrogen gas separation. This also includes the recovery and separation of critical materials such as rare earth elements and battery materials, bioenergy separations for sustainable aviation fuel, and desalination. Three of the technologies he co-invented have been licensed to industry for commercialization. Dr. Islam received the ORNL Innovation Award in 2020 and 2023. 


  • R&D Staff Scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory                                    April 2024 - Present  
  • R&D Associate Staff Scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory       January 2021 - March 2024         
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory      August 2018- December 2020
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)       August 2017 – July 2018
  • 2023 ORNL Innovation Award
  • 2023 Best Paper Award, Advanced Engineering Materials
  • 2020 ORNL Innovation Award
  • Best Lightning Talk Award, 7th Annual Oak Ridge Postdoctoral Association Research Symposium, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2019.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award, University of Kentucky, 2017.
  • Outstanding Poster Presentation Award, KY NSF EPSCoR Super Collider Symposium, Lexington, KY, 2017.
  • Dissertation Enhancement Award, University of Kentucky, 2016.
  • North American Membrane Society Student Stipend Award, 2016.
  • Center of Membrane Sciences 2016 Ph.D. Student Fellow Award, University of Kentucky, 2016.
  • Selected for 18th U.S. National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering, ORNL, ANL and DOE, 2016.
  • 1st Place Poster Award, Chemical and Materials Engineering Symposium, University of Kentucky, 2015.
  • University of Kentucky Graduate School Travel Award, 2014-2016.

Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2017
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

M.S., Chemical Engineering, 2012
North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC

B.Sc., Chemical Engineering March 2009
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh

American Institute of Chemical Engineers

North American Membrane Society

  1. Ramesh Bhave, Syed Z. Islam, and Priyesh Wagh, Recovery of critical elements from end-of-life lithium ion batteries with supported membrane solvent extraction. U.S. Patent 11,811,035 B2, November 7, 2023.
  2. R. Bhave, Syed Z. Islam, S. Dangwal, A novel membrane contactor based liquid-liquid extraction process for biofuel separation and recovery from fermentation broth for sustainable aviation fuel, ORNL Invention Disclosure No: 202305475, September 2023.
  3. M Parans Paranthaman, Priyesh Wagh, Ramesh Bhave, Syed Z. Islam, A novel energy efficient membrane solvent extraction process for separation of lithium from geothermal brines, US provisional patent application No. 81938770, June 2023. 
  4. Ramesh Bhave, Priyesh Wagh, Syed Z. Islam, A novel efficient process for separation of critical materials from primary and secondary sources, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No: 81949362, November 2023. 
  5. Ramesh R. Bhave, Syed Z. Islam, Priyesh A. Wagh, Method of concentrating lithium-containing solutions and recovering lithium therefrom, U.S. Patent Application No. 17/836,088, June 9, 2022. 
  6. Ramesh Bhave, Syed Z. Islam, Vishwanath Deshmane, Separation of rare earth elements using supported membrane solvent extraction, U.S. Patent 11,293,078 B2, April 5, 2022.