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Komal Syed is an Associate Program Officer for the National Academy of Engineering. Prior to joining NAE, Komal was a 2021 Christine Mirzayan S&T Policy Fellow working in the Policy and Global Affairs Division at the National Academies. She completed her PhD in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California-Irvine (August 2021) where she was a Provost PhD fellow. She was awarded the Student Scholar Award from the Microscopy Society of America for her work on interfacial characterization in technical ceramics. Her research focused on process-structure-property relations in ceramic materials exposed to extreme environments. At UCI, Komal had been an active volunteer in various roles such as mentoring undergraduate engineering students from minority backgrounds, and organizing forums to address graduate student issues (mental well-being, work/life balance etc.) in collaboration with the UCI Office of Access and Inclusion. Due to her interest in science policy, she completed a certificate program in science policy and advocacy for STEM scientists during which she learnt effective strategies for scientists to interact with policymakers, and was the winner of 2020 annual elevator pitch competition at UCI.