Engineering Fresh Faces: Zahra K. Motamed
Photo by Jin Lee
BY Michelle Pressé
July 10, 2019
Zahra K. Motamed is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In her Fresh Faces spotlight, she talks about the most fascinating thing about her research, the greatest journey she’s ever taken and the refreshing reason that she loves working with students so much.
On the greatest journey she’s ever taken
The greatest journey that I have ever had, and I am still having, is the inner journey that I have within myself to find unexplored area of my own self and understand it better. This journey has always had huge impact on my personal life, my research, my teaching and my relationships with my colleagues and students.
On the advice she’d give her younger self
I spent about 10 years in industry before going back to graduate school to do my PhD studies. The experience was very good, but everyone is different. Academia better suits my desire of generating new ideas every day. I would tell my younger self that go back to academia sooner.
On the most fascinating thing about her research
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and is expected to remain the first cause of death by 2030 in the world. My research interests are in the areas of biofluid mechanics which are very broad, multidisciplinary and dynamic. A major part of my work has been dedicated to development and validation of advanced multi-scale computational-mechanics and imaging-based algorithms. One component of my work is to develop long needed quantitative diagnostic, predictive and intervention-optimization tools for cardiovascular diseases to support personalized interventions and clinical decision making. The other main component is to design, evaluate and optimize cardiovascular (in both invasive and less invasive) devices such as transcatheter heart valves and vascular stents as well as sensors for smart house and smart vehicle. I hope our mechanical engineering knowledge that we bring to the field of human health will have major impacts on saving lives to the extent that has never been possible in the past.
On the most rewarding thing about working with students
I am blessed to give them the mentorship that I was given by my wonderful mentors and in return I am living again with these young people. They give me fresh energy and fresh outlook about scientific problems and life itself. I teach the things that I know, and they will use that knowledge in the future that they will see but I will not see it.
On who has had the greatest impact on her personal and professional life
First and most were my parents who have had long-lasting impacts on my personal and professional life. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my parents’ vision and care. My academic advisors were also my role models and I learned from them a lot.
On knowing she wanted to become an engineer
Coming from an engineering family (my uncles, my cousins and my brothers are engineer), it was so natural to decide to be an engineer. I always loved mathematics and physics, but it was during my high school years that I firmly decided that I wanted to be an engineer.