Why did you choose to attend FSU to pursue a graduate degree?
I started my journey in Physics in high school, focusing on Astronomy/Astrophysics. However, while receiving my college education at the University of Tehran, I realized there are more areas in Physics and science that I am excited and curious about. This wide range of interest made it difficult for me to decide what I wanted to pursue in graduate school. In the search for a graduate school, Florida State University stood out immediately for its wide range of research opportunities which are available to Physics students. As a graduate student I had the opportunity to work in High energy and Particle Physics (both using local accelerators and in collaboration with other labs like Jefferson Lab and LHC in Europe), Astrophysics (in collaboration with large observatories around the globe), Biophysics (in Institute of Molecular Biophysics), and National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. After starting at FSU I realized the graduate program was even more flexible than I expected and inter-disciplinary research is often encouraged. On a side note, I was applying to US institutions from Iran and the exchange rate makes the application fee considerable and FSU was one of the most affordable Universities for me.
What motivated you to pursue a graduate degree?
I was always passionate about understanding nature and the scientific method. As a child, I was impressed by some of the historical monuments in Iran that were built with high precision to predict Astronomical phenomena. These monuments included the ones that were made with an impressive knowledge of astronomy to be used as solar calendars before the Islamic era and the mosques built to face Mecca with the knowledge of the spherical geometry after the Islamic era. Approaching these questions and learning about the scientific revolution that started with Galileo in high school made it clear for me that I wanted to pursue science to higher degrees. I always imagined myself as scholars of the old world while looking at the work thinking to myself: “Could I make the same discovery if I lived back then?” And now I am trying to make new discoveries in my graduate research and beyond that.
Describe the importance of your research and work? Why should anyone care about the work you are doing?
The focus of our research group is the atomic structure of muscle, specifically Insect Flight Muscle (IFM). At face value it might not look very important, but IFMs are the best models to understand vertebrate muscle, including human muscle and most important of all: the human heart! Muscle tissue from different species have fundamental similarities highly conserved through evolution. This is what I consider the best part of my research: I get to explore known areas of our knowledge about nature while the results can directly affect human lives in a positive way. Understanding muscle may lead to new treatments and cures for heart disease like cardiomyopathy.
Briefly describe your career aspirations.
My career goal is to become an independent researcher in a university. I am also passionate about teaching and training the next generation of researchers. I enjoy teaching as a graduate student now and I hope to become a professor in a university in the future.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school.
My advice for people considering graduate school would be to start looking into your interests and target schools before finishing your college degree. Explore your options both in and out of graduate school to make an informed decision. It is not easy to complete a graduate degree, but you should not let the fear of difficulties stop you either.
Accomplishments during your graduate career that you are proud of.
I have contributed to two publications (https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/7/1703 and https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4964269) with one article under review and two prepared to submit. I was also nominated for Outstanding Teaching Assistantship Award (2017), President of Physics Graduate Student Association (2018), FSU 3 Minutes Thesis Finalist (2018) published here: https://youtu.be/r_av5c3pJCE, and the Richard L. Wilder Endowed Fellowship (2019).