MSE Undergraduate Wins NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

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Zinab Jadidi, an Undergraduate Student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UMD, was born and bred in the heavily polluted city of Tehran, Iran. Bearing witness to the destructive effects that air pollution can have on people and their environments was the motivation behind Jadidi's pursuit of sustainable energy as a field of study. She specifically chose Materials Science Engineering after realizing the importance of novel research and production in her quest for clean, renewable energy.  

After immigrating to the U.S., and spending two years at Montgomery College, Jadidi transferred to UMD to strengthen her science background. During her junior year, she was introduced to the Renewable Energy and Advanced Devices (READ) Lab, headed by MSE Assistant Professor, Marina Leite. Shortly thereafter, Jadidi received an ASPIRE award from the MD Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) to conduct research on all-solid-state batteries. In the summer of 2016, she became an intern in the NSF Transportation Electrification REU Program within the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, where she started a new project under the supervision of Dr. Leite. 

"Working in Professor Leite's group helped me develop critical thinking skills and improve my oral and written communication skills, which are essential to having a successful, STEM career," said Jadidi. "Moreover, I gained invaluable hands-on, experience at the UMD Nanocenter cleanroom (FabLab) and AIM Lab."

Jadidi has maintained an A-average in all of her upper level courses, been involved in multiple research projects, participated in numerous conferences and workshops, and even made time for extracurricular activities, such as a membership in the Women In Engineering (WIE) society, where she volunteers with grade-school Girl Scouts as an electrical engineer lab leader. For all of these reasons, the National Science Foundation (NSF) inducted this self-made scholar into it's prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

As a NSFGRF recipient, Jadidi will receive an annual stipend of $34,000, in addition to $12,000 in tuition support, over a three year period. This award will give her the freedom to conduct her research at a U.S. institution of her choice. Jadidi has recently accepted a Ph.D. in MSE admission to U.C. Berkeley, where she will join a computational materials science group focusing on battery technology.

Jadidi says her long-term goal is to become a leader in the research field of energy storage and renewable energy systems.

"Having the experience of living in two countries (Iran and the U.S.) with very different cultures, I realize that gender inequality is a global problem, which is more ubiquitous in STEM fields," she said. "I would like to spend more time with the WIE society at U.C. Berkeley, and help motivate middle and high school female students to follow STEM fields by mentoring them and engaging with them in hands-on STEM-related activities."

Congratulations, Zinab! UMD expects to see great things from you in the future! 



Published April 22, 2017