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Two students win new graduate student research award

Tara Foroozan and Ali Zamani MIE PhD students

Two PhD candidates in mechanical and industrial engineering (MIE) were named winners of the inaugural Graduate Student Award for Exceptional Research Promise from the College of Engineering.

The new award recognizes top doctoral students for groundbreaking research, and it is given to students who are within a year of graduating and have demonstrated excellence in scholarship, academic publication, and other research-focused activities. This recognition goes hand-in-hand with a core part of UIC’s research mission: training the next generation of research scientists. The MIE students are two of only seven students in the college of engineering to win the award.

Tara Foroozan received the award for her successful record of promising research in the form of publications with high impact factors, conference presentations, filed patents, and funded proposals related to metal batteries and addressing the challenges associated with them.

“I was really excited to win such competitive award,” she said. “It was my first award during my graduate studies and I am happy that I received it very close to my PhD defense, as it justifies that my efforts during these years have been highly valuable.”

Foroozan works under the direction of MIE Professor Reza Shahbazian-Yassar in the Nano Engineering Lab at UIC where she appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with her peers, has access to instrumentations for performing research, and freedom to express ideas.

“My goal as a researcher is to be a useful member of a R&D team in industry and perform applicable research addressing real life challenges,” she added.

“I was happy to know that I was selected as a recipient of the award. I’m glad that my research accomplishments have been recognized, especially during the unique hardships faced by many due to Covid-19,” said Ali Zamani, who also was named a recipient.

Zamani, who works under the direction of Assistant Professor Pranav Bhounsule, received the award for his research in robotics and controls. The work is focused on motion control and planning of legged robots, especially one-legged hopping robots and two-legged walking robots. Legged robots are yet to achieve the dexterity and nimbleness of human and animal movement, and his research is trying to close the gap. In a short span, Ali has published five peer review journals and eight peer reviewed conference papers in top robotics journals and at conferences, and his work has received more than 75 citations.

“My goals as a researcher is to continue discovering new ideas and contributing to the breadth of knowledge in the field of robotics. I want to increase scientific knowledge of the technology needed for robots to perform such functions as deliveries, search-and-rescue, and health care,” he said.

Learn more about MIE’s graduate programs at