Nasim Yavari represents excellence in so many ways. An international graduate student soon to obtain her Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Bharti School of Engineering at Laurentian University, she has overcome many challenging obstacles. She is nevertheless a courageous trailblazer who has contributed substantially to the University community. “It’s been a nice journey for me. I feel as though I have become part of the Laurentian community.”
Yavari’s home country is Iran, from which she moved to Sudbury in January 2021. Before doing so, she acquired a Master of Science degree in Energy and Environmental Engineering from the University of Tehran, a top ranked university in Iran. Upon completion of this degree, Yavari hit the ground running and began developing a strong reputation in her field. She was offered a job as a project manager, but aspired to continue her education. “I needed to improve my knowledge to support my lifelong desire to become an individual who can take steps, even small ones, to save and protect our planet. I needed to keep up with new challenges in environmental engineering at an international level, so I thought, ‘I need to go to an advanced country and continue my education there.’” Dr. John Ashley Scott, Professor of Bioprocesses Engineering at Laurentian, was eager to supervise the work of such a strong and dedicated student. Other members of Yavari’s graduate student committee included Dr. Gerusa Senhorinho and Dr. Corey Laamanen.
Because Yavari moved to Canada during the pandemic, she initially felt quite isolated. She missed her family and friends back home, as well as her blossoming career. Supportive faculty members and peers, however, helped turn things positively around for Yavari. “After engaging in the [University] community, I felt like it was a community [that] I could grow in. The people here were really nice and really kind-hearted. I had a good vibe and it felt like a home for me.”
Yavari was thrilled to be a part of such a strong research team, and spoke fondly about memories she obtained in the lab. She recently defended her thesis, titled Fermentation CO2 biosequestration by microalgae for the production of health beneficial natural compounds.
Previous to her defense, she participated in the Graduate Students Associations’ (GSA) annual research symposium. Not only did she engage in this week-long event as a conference speaker and three minute thesis (3MT) competitor, but she was one of the primary organizers of the event. This is because Yavari holds a leadership role on the executive team of the GSA, as the Vice-President, Events. “I am a social person and I enjoy seeing graduate students talk about and promote their research. This has been an amazing experience for me.”
Impressively, Yavari is the recipient of many prestigious scholarships. Recently, she obtained the Air and Waste Management Association’s Paul G. Complin Memorial Scholarship. Also this year, she was honoured by the Maintenance, Engineering and Reliability Society Scholarship from the Canadian Institute of Ministry, Metallurgy, and Petroleum. In 2021, she was the recipient of both the Parya Foundation Scholarship Program Award, and Laurentian’s Summer Fellowship Program Award. What’s more, Yavari was denoted an Outstanding Women of Laurentian University award in March 2022 by the University's Presidential Advisory Committee on the Status of Gender Equity and in reflection of her activism in education, especially as it relates to young women. “This distinction was remarkable…. It made me realize the hardships I have overcome, and all the steps I have taken along the journey.”
Yavari humbly attributes much of her courage and resilience to those who have inspired her. “Supervisors in my career and at the University have been great. I’ve worked with men who believed in women’s rights and improving women’s rights in society. They have helped me a lot. My first mentor was my father. He taught me how to be a strong woman and not be affected by the social norms of society. ‘You can be the change you desire to see in the world,’ he would tell me….When you see successful people that support you, are kind to you, give advice to you, you have a feeling [that] you can do that too.”
With her second Master’s degree nearly to be conferred, Yavari spoke about her interest to continue her studies at Laurentian. While she currently seeks work experience in the field of engineering in Sudbury before making the decision to pursue a PhD, a doctoral degree is something that intrigues her. Notably, so does starting up her own business. “I think maybe someday I hope to develop a business in the environmental engineering field. I’d love to [work] with a company to help and consult with other companies, like mining companies, and other industries to reduce waste….That’s my plan.”
Yavari is an inspiration for the student body at Laurentian, and we look forward to keeping up with her ongoing success. Congratulations Nasim!