In the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), we have the privilege of working with students and scholars from all around the globe. Connecting with these students and helping them find their home at UNH is one of the most rewarding aspects of our jobs. And sometimes, if we are lucky, the connections made in this office become lifelong. Ali Nassiri is one such student. He arrived from Iran on a very cold, very snowy evening in January of 2011.
Ali recalls many amazing memories he created while at UNH, but it was this first snowy day as a Wildcat that stands out most vividly in his mind. He arrived on campus around 10 PM to almost two feet of snow and temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit! Having arrived during the University's winter break, campus was eerily quiet, almost as if he had arrived during an apocalypse. What a welcome! A real Day After Tomorrow vibe. Ali remembers with a laugh that he was still in the early stages of shock upon this snow-laden arrival.
However, the next morning, when the shock had subsided and he was able to meet with the staff at OISS, Ali quickly realized without a doubt that he was at the right school. He was grateful for the way OISS helped to ensure a smooth transition for him and the other international students who arrived that snowy January. "The OISS mission motivated me to get more involved in the community, so I volunteered myself to serve as an Orientation Leader for the incoming international students [the following year] because I really wanted the same smooth and enjoyable transition for everybody."
Nassiri received a Master of Science in Integrated Applied Mathematics from UNH in 2013 and then went on to earn his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. Not only did Ali excel in his studies, he made it a point to become involved, electing to become an Orientation Leader to give back to new students the kind of experience he received and very much appreciated as someone adapting to a new culture.
He remembers fondly all the Thursday afternoon International Circle lunches, watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the staff, playing pick-up soccer during the summers, and countless other memories that made his experience at UNH extra special.
After receiving his PhD, Nassiri was afforded the opportunity to work as a postdoctoral research associate at UNH for a short period of time. This steppingstone led him to accept a postdoctoral position in the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) with a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University (OSU) in April of 2016. Then, in May of 2017, he went on to join the Ohio State Simulation Innovation and Modeling Center (SIM Center) as a Research Scientist. It is clear Ali made his professional mark on Ohio State and the opportunities continued to manifest as he transitioned away from New Hampshire and began to thrive in yet another new place.
As of September 1, 2019, Ali is now serving as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering at OSU. He explains, "In my lab, we are trying to fundamentally understand the materials behavior subjected to large plastic deformation during high-speed manufacturing, in particular, impulse-based metalworking. To achieve this goal, we use a combination of cutting-edge multi-scale, multi-physics numerical simulations, mechanical testing and advanced materials characterization." While none of that makes a whole lot of sense to me, it sounds impressive and Ali went on to say his current research is well-aligned with his PhD studies. "Conducting cutting-edge research at UNH helped me to gain enough confidence to expose myself to new challenges in my field."
Ali attributes his success to the many wonderful professors at UNH who inspired him and helped to drive his aspirations in his field. He also gives credit to the Mechanical Engineering Department staff, as well as those at OISS, all of whom he says were willing to help and support international students every single day. "I cannot imagine getting through my time at UNH without them! But, if I want to name a couple people that I learned a lot from, I [must mention] my PhD advisors, Professors Brad Kinsey and Greg Chini, as well as Elizabeth Webber from OISS. I'm still in touch with all three of them."
In addition to his impressive career milestones, Ali and his wife Elli welcomed a baby girl, Lara, into the world in September of 2018. Ali shared that those days were quite busy as they adapted to life with a newborn, which one could imagine included many sleepless nights amid long shifts in the lab. And now that his loyalties have become divided between UNH and OSU, Ali jokes that the most challenging question in their lives right now is: "which university will Lara choose to attend in the future, UNH or OSU?" A Wildcat or a Buckeye? Hmm, I sense a new rivalry forming. But, as the saying goes, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.
WRITTEN BY: Kate Luksha | Global Education Center | firstname.lastname@example.org