Student Spotlights

Ali MazloomzadehAli Mazloomzadeh

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing

Ali Mazloomzadeh, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently received the "Best Student Paper Award" at SmartGridComm 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. The fourth international conference brought together researchers from academia, industry, and national labs to discuss innovative designs that can optimize energy consumption for global consumers.

Ali's paper "TSB: Trusted Sensing Base for the Power Grid" earned him one of the conference's top honors. The internationally recognized award was a product of key collaborations between Ali, FIU Professor Dr. Osama Mohammed, and University of Miami Assistant Professor Saman Aliari Zonouz.

Before joining the Ph.D. program at FIU in the Spring of 2010, Ali earned his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Tehran, Iran in 2009. He is currently completing his dissertation, which is titled "Development of Hardware in the Loop Real-Time Control Techniques for Hybrid Power Systems Involving Distributed Demands and Sustainable Energy Sources."

For more information please visit SmartGridComm 2013.

Meng XuMeng Xu

  • Home country: China
  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • College of Arts and Sciences

With plans to become a professor, Meng Xu wanted the best education possible. In 2010 she left her native China to pursue graduate studies at FIU. Since then, she has expanded her research in biochemistry, research that has its implications for treating cancer and neurological disease and that has recently won Meng Xu an award from the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society. Meng's Student and New Investigator Travel Award, a first for any FIU student, recognizes research excellence and promise of long-term contribution to the field of Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics. With support from her advisor and laboratory colleagues, she has found a corner of comfort where she can thrive far, far from home.

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Q&A with Meng Xu

What got you interested in research?

When I was in high school, we were taught biology and topics related to genetics, such as how chromosomes recombine with each other. In those moments, I felt hit by the beautiful things, and I wanted to know exactly what's happening and see more in the area. After I graduated high school, I went to university and chose a major called biotechnique. Mainly we'd do genomic recombination with bacteria. So at that time, I realized how beautiful this area was. Finally, after I graduated from my university, I decided to go to FIU to continue with this area of study.

What is your research about?

My research area is basically about when our genetic material like DNA gets damaged, so what we want to do is figure out how the proteins in our body, like enzymes, can cooperate with each other to repel that kind of damage.

What is your research goal?

We are working on repeated sequences [of genes]. Their expansion will cause Huntington's disease, which is a neuro-degenerative disease. And the position of the repeat in the androgen receptor will cause cancer. So what we've started is highly linked to disease. Our final goal is to find the mechanisms behind the expansion and division and how we can use chemicals to target specific enzymes in the process to finally cure these kinds of diseases.

How do you like FIU?

FIU is a wonderful university and it has a beautiful environment and great research areas, and my classmates are very friendly. My advisor is Dr. Liu. She helps us a lot with research and acceptance. She is also really concerned with our lives like what activities we are participating in and broadening our views and she helps with our future career.

Tell us about the award you received.

The award from the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society is a travel award to attend the meeting this September, in California. Why we want to attend is because it's highly linked with what we are studying, so even though it's environmental pollutant stuff it can directly damage our DNA. And since California is far away from Florida, it will cost a lot for the flight ticket and hotel and stuff, and the department funding is somewhat limited, so we wanted to try for some external funding to cover my travel expenses as much as possible. It's weird to get lucky.

What made you want to come all the way to FIU?

The main thing was because the education in China, especially in biochemistry, is far away from that in the U.S. I wanted to sort of broaden my view. It's nice to see what's outside so we can compare with different kinds of people and also work with them. And the thing that drove me to go to FIU to continue with my study is because I searched on the website of the chemistry department, and I saw Dr. Yuan Liu and the short introduction under her name and thought that's really the area I want to study.

Tell us about your department.

In terms of the research group, there are two sides. I have a small group and definitely get more guidance from my advisor and enjoy more area in the lab and concentrate on your research, but the large group has another benefit. You can talk to your lab mates, you can exchange thoughts, and discuss with each other. Of course, you get less attention from the advisor, but it's a friendly environment, so people can talk and know how we can cooperate with each other for big jobs.

Any tips for new students?

For applying to graduate school, first of all, we need to plan ahead of time. The deadline won't wait for you. We need to plan even one year before. Another thing is to get things organized. Because applying to graduate school means that you need to mail out a lot of things and you don't want to miss anything and don't want to mess up things because maybe schools have different departments. And for the awards, just work as hard as possible and then you can get wonderful results.


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