Mehdi Karzar Jeddi
Tell me about your research. What area did you focus on for your PhD?
My research has been focused in understanding the underlying physics in several complex systems in fluid dynamics. First, I worked on developing theoretical and computational models and a fabricated microfluidic device to investigate cell membrane deformation, dynamics of injecting pipette, and fluid transport during microinjection process. This work provided a mechanistic understanding of micropipette dynamics to improve oocyte cell membrane piercing efficiency. The second project involved transporting properties and hydrodynamic interactions of colloidal particles in polymer solutions. I developed computational models based on boundary integral method and Brownian dynamics method to assess the diffusive motion of colloidal particles in presence of background polymer molecules by connecting hydrodynamic interactions of colloids to the statistical Brownian force of colloids. Using these models, I studied the effects of the polymer depletion on correlated motion of two optically trapped particles and the diffusive motion of probe particles.
Why did you choose to come to UConn?
I knew some of UConn’s faculty members in my area of research. I started communicating with my [later] adviser after he had introduced the interesting research topics in his group. I decided to join UConn to pursue my graduate studies.
You had previously mentioned that you applied to and interviewed for jobs in both academia and industry. Tell me a little about the decision between industry and academia? Why did you ultimately choose academia?
This is still an ongoing process. I had a few years’ experience in industry before coming to UConn. While industrial experience is interesting because of the opportunity it provides to solve real world problems but with graduate school experience I found my desire is in teaching, performing research in new areas, and publishing. This desire drives me to choose academia.
When did you start the process of searching and applying to academic jobs?
Up until the last days before my graduation I was thinking I would be able to stay in the same research group for a year. But for some reasons we could not secure the funding for post doc. So for me, the major part of my process started after graduation in August 2014. Before my graduation I was looking for positions but I didn’t do any serious search until after graduation. I was lucky that my doctoral adviser had funds to support me for 3 months. I would recommend to my colleagues to start their search at least one year before graduation.
What resources did you use to guide and support your search (faculty, workshops, professional associations, etc.)?
I tried to use all of these resources. I attended many meetings and workshops which helped me to meet new people, grow my network, and learn about available position. Also, I used some of the resources in professional communities in my field. But my major resource was the Internet.
How many places did you interview? Was there anything interesting or unique about a particular interview?
I interviewed at four different academic positions and for two positions in industry. I applied to many more though. One thing that I found interesting about the interview process was the job talks. I had a job talk where not everyone was doing research in the same field as mine. The interesting thing that happened was there were a lot of interesting comments from different backgrounds which gave me a lot of ideas for my research and future work.
What do you think was the most important thing to being prepared for the job search?
I think being yourself, knowing the work you have done, and knowing your interests and what you are looking for is the most important thing. Other than this general suggestion practicing with friends or at least in front of a mirror is very helpful.
What is something you learned during your job search that you had not thought of before starting that process?
I would say timing and networking are the keys for successful job search.
What are you future goals that have helped you decide which job offer to accept?
My ultimate goal is to pursue my research career in academia. This is the most important thing I considered when decision process. Also as post doc is product driven job I chose the opportunities which will give me the best chance to empower my academic application package.
Can you give any advice to your fellow UConn students in terms of launching a job search?
The most important thing is to build and maintain your network. This does not necessarily happen in a meeting or at a conference. It can also include professional conversation with your classmate, roommates, or even a person sitting next to you at a conference lunch. It is also important to constantly have other people review your application package.