International Student Research Benefits Astronomers
Shirin Montazeri, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering, left Iran four years ago for UMass Amherst to take advantage of greater opportunities for women scientists and to study with faculty conducting groundbreaking research. Already, Montazeri, who will complete her doctorate in 2018, has achieved a breakthrough in the development of radio receivers used by astronomers.
“Our understanding from the sky is really limited; so we are trying to develop much more accurate receivers to help us better understand outer space,” she explains. She has discovered a way to reduce power consumption of receivers in extremely low temperatures. Montazeri is a member of the UMass Amherst Radio Frequency Nanoelectronics Group, directed by Joseph Bardin, a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering.She also received a $6,000 fellowship from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.
Montazeri, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran, is one of an estimated 1,432 international graduate students at UMass Amherst. Her home country of Iran ranks fourth after China, India, and South Korea for sending students to the commonwealth’s flagship campus. She says the adjustment to life in the U.S. and academic life at UMass was not easy at first. However, she says Bardin, her advisor, and staff at the International Programs Office have helped her with challenges. For instance, any visa issues that arise get a quick response from IPO staff. The UMass Amherst Graduate Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), a support group,also has been helpful.She says she believes UMass Amherst will help her reach her goal of finding a job as a researcher in the U.S. “If someone is interested in doing high tech research, this is the place to consider because of all the talented people and the available research equipment,” says Montazeri.