I.Q. Spotlight: Professor Mahshid Amirabadi
Assistant Professor Mahshid Amirabadi has made some big moves in her life to now find herself doing research, running a lab, and teaching at Northeastern. From Tehran to College Station, Texas, from Texas to Chicago, and from Chicago to her new home, Boston.
Professor Amirabadi's interest is in power electronics and her research leans mainly towards renewable energy applications. Though her path wasn't always clear, early in her academic career she thought about making a change.
"Initially I wasn't sure about electrical engineering, for the first two years into my bachelors I was thinking about maybe switching to computer science. Eventually after taking some technical courses in electrical engineering I figured out this is what I really like and I want to continue."
She stuck with it and ended up earning her undergraduate and master's degrees in Iran. After that, Professor Amirabadi went to Texas A&M University for her PhD. She decided to continue her career in the U.S. after learning about large power group at Texas A&M University and wide range of research thrusts in that university.
Professor Amirabadi said it took some time to become adjusted after going so far from home, "It was very difficult because it was the first time I was living by myself and the first time being far from family, it's especially difficult for Iranians who do not have the option to visit their family very frequently because of the visa issues." She wouldn't see her parents for seven years, finally visiting them in summer 2014.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Professor Amirabadi made another big transition when she joined University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant professor. Like most other tenure track professors she started her first year with a lot of stress. "You need to manage your time between research, teaching, and service to the professional community, and you find yourself working very long hours to be able to accomplish the tasks." she said.
After a couple of years in Chicago, Professor Amirabadi would again pack her bags, heading east for Northeastern University. She said she loved Chicago and her job at the University of Illinois at Chicago but thought that the opportunities in Boston were too good to pass up.
"The main reason for the move was to join a larger power group in which there are more opportunities for collaboration."
She said she hasn't had the chance to explore Boston but is hoping to find time to get acquainted this summer.
Professor Amirabadi enjoys being at Northeastern because she had a very smooth transition. She already knew what she wanted for her lab and already had PhD students, so she was able to start her research quickly.
"I had the lab just a few days after I moved… They needed some time to install three-phase connections, and after that we could start working on our experiments right away. It's been going well."
Professor Amirabadi is also looking forward to the future as she continues to do her research and teach.
"I'm really glad that I'm here. I love Northeastern. The department is very supportive to junior faculty, and this helps me a lot in my career. Also, it's really good to work with Professors Brad Lehman and Ali Abur, who are in my area. They are both very supportive."