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Vakhshoori Scholarship Recipients for school year 2015-2016

Anahita Khodadadi

Anahita Khodadadi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. In 2003, she was admitted to Architecture program at University of Tehran. Although a significant portion of her time was spent in volunteer activities, she was admitted to the honors to Master Arch. Program in Architectural Technology at the University of Tehran, because of her outstanding academic records. At the same time of her Master’s studies, She began working in an architecture firm. There, she gained practical experiences in research and design by engaging in real projects. Besides, she became a member of the Zoroastrian Student Association (Kanun), when she was pursuing her Master’s degree, collaborating in organizing and holding the Mantra Annual Congress and the Annual Zoroastrian Sports Competition (Jaam-e Janbakhtegan). In 2010, when she completed her Master’s degree, she acquired the first place among the graduate students that was encouraging to continue her studies at a higher level.

In 2011, she became a part-time lecturer at Architecture School of Islamic Azad University, West Tehran Branch. she began teaching courses in Construction Technologies and History of Iranian Architecture. Then, another chapter was paged through her life. She should motivate her students and support them to learn, improve and pursuing their goals. Her two-year teaching experiences made her more interested in academic work. Then, she strongly determined to continue her studies at a deeper level and acquire her doctoral degree where she can develop her ideas further. There was no faculty member who was working at the edge of the knowledge in her field of interest through out universities in Iran. Thus, she became determined to explore Ph.D. programs in top-ranked universities all over the world where she can work on her subject of interest. In 2013, she was admitted to the doctoral program at the University of Michigan, where she has the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary area.

Through her doctoral study, she attempts to develop computational design methods that can assist designers to consider multiple design objectives and make decisions more conveniently. The designer should gather information about the consequences of each alternative solution being presented to the client. Conventionally, some models need to be physically built or virtually generated. These models have to be evaluated and modified through an iterative procedure to approach the ideal solutions that meet the design objectives. The described procedure demands a considerable amount of time and effort and may cause exhaustion, mind blocking and stop the designer from exploring further possible solutions. However, the design method that she is going to offer utilizes computational tools and the principles of the genetic algorithm to facilitate exploration of a greater number of alternative solutions, and to expand the designer’s perspective. Consequently, the designers will be able to evaluate the building different performances, and offer some suitable solutions to their users or clients.

Studying at the University of Michigan has brought light into her path toward being a researcher and instructor in academia. Besides working on her dissertation, she is training at Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) as a future faculty to have more inclusive and effective class where students with all identities can flourish.


I believe that a community can become stronger and more developed, first, if its generations are well-educated and, second, if they can remain connected to their roots. I encourage Zoroastrian students to keep learning and improving their knowledge and skills in their professional life. I had a two-year teaching experience as a lecturer in Iran and I have been a graduate instructor at the University of Michigan. This allows me to be familiar with the key points of a successful education in both Iran and United States. Furthermore, I can share my knowledge and experiments through the application process with other students who are seeking a graduate degree in North America.  In a broader perspective, I feel a great desire to help Vakhshoori Foundation to develop its ideas and projects since my social goals are almost aligned with that of is sought through this organization.

Watch Anahita's video by clicking here

Golchehr Noshirvani

Golchehr Noshirvani's passion for science has led her from one side of the world to the other. Born in Iran, she earned her B.S. in physics from Tehran University. In 2009, her family immigrated to United States, where she received an M.S. at Physics at San Jose State University. Now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona, Golchehr works in a biomedical research group, where she is implementing a low-cost, fast, 3-D microscope for in-vivo, deep tissue fluorescence imaging. Golchehr’s project is an instrument compatible with existing microscopes, which can be inexpensively distributed to biomedical research groups that use zebra fish. Her research adviser is Leilei Peng, a professor in one of the top ten optical science departments in the nation. In addition to her research, Golchehr serves as an officer for the university’s Women in Physics group, which works to advance women and minorities in science. The group organizes career seminars and outreach activities in local primary and secondary schools. Golchehr is proud to contribute to the Zoroastrian community. In addition to encouraging youths to pursue higher education, she has helped Zoroastrian families navigate their new lives in the U.S. by helping them prepare résumés and apply for jobs, government insurance, and green cards. She helped the late Dr. Oshidari spread the speech of Zoroaster by organizing and typing the Rahe-e-Asha magazine.


She hopes to open a private network to connect volunteer and Zoroastrians applicant in social activities to reduce the challenges of immigrating to the US. Zoroastrians, despite their historical struggles, are resilient, and Golchehr is committed to nurturing and growing a strong, educated, and united community. She invokes her peer Zoroastrians to be pledged to their society and endeavor to improve the Zoroastrians community in all the fields.

Watch Golchehr's video by clicking here


Jall Cowasji is a graduate film student at New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. He is pursuing an intensive three year program geared towards excellence in the highly volatile medium that is filmmaking. He hopes to strengthen his voice as a filmmaker and contribute significantly to independent cinema in the near future. Prior to attending NYU, Jall worked closely on *Qissa-e Parsi: The Parsi Story* as cinematographer and co-editor. The film explores the history of the Parsi community, their ethos, contribution and relationship with the Indian subcontinent. The film has seen widespread success, winning the National Award for Best Anthropological/Ethnographic Film in 2014. The Zoroastrian Return to Roots program included a screening of the film as part of its itinerary in India, and ZAGNY recently hosted multiple screenings of the film in New York. In the same vein, Jall photographed and edited Navroz: The New Day, an educational film commissioned by the Ministry of External Affairs for a special screening at the United Nations. Jall is in the process of honing his craft so that he may become a far more astute filmmaker. When the time is right, he will delve deeper into documentary filmmaking with his sister, Divya Cowasji, exploring further nuances of the Zoroastrian community.


The best way I can serve my beloved Zoroastrian community is to contribute my skills as a filmmaker. Once I graduate from NYU’s TISCH School of the Arts, I intend to bring the community to the forefront in my filmmaking pursuits. I pledge to return to the community the plethora of opportunities it has provided me. Any youth interested in the pursuit of filmmaking or the creative arts in general will always find my door open for support or guidance.

Watch Jall's video by clicking here

Negin Forouzesh

Negin Forouzesh, was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She got her Bachelor degree in Computer Science from Tehran Polytechnic in 2011. Then, according to her high GPA, she was awarded straight MSc admission offer from the same university. She worked on an interdisciplinary project as her master thesis in which she exploited Computational Geometry algorithms to propose a novel ranking method for identifying protein binding sites- a substantial and fundamental issue in structure- based drug design. Afterward, she moved to the United States to follow her PhD in the same major at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. As a member of Structural Bioinformatics and Computational Molecular Biophysics, she is examining facile yet fast geometry data structures to simulate and maintain the status of dynamic biomolecular complexes. It is worth mentioning that Bioinformatics addresses critical challenges related to the life sciences, and those posed to human health, habitat and well-being. Indeed, research effort in this field is focused on refining methods for diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. The target is closely aligned with Negin’s personal goals and beliefs, which stems from one of the principles of our religion: prosperity belongs to one who seeks the welfare of others. She was an active member of the Zoroastrian Students Association (Kanoon Daneshjooyan Zartoshti) in Iran for approximately 7 years, where she was the organizer of many religious, sport and cultural events: head of the table tennis committee and the head of public relations committee in the annual Zoroastrian Olympics (Jaame-e Janbakhtegan). In 2014, she was selected as the chief coordinator of the 21st national religious congress Manthra, an annual congress in which more than 150 participants compete with each other by reading Avesta and writing articles about Gatha and related subjects. Negin encourages Zoroastrian students to not only find their field of interest and make progress in academia, but also to commit themselves to their society by attending social events and keep our valuable religion and culture.


As a senior member of Zoroastrian Student Association (Kanoon), I have collaborated with many students to organize various programs annually. I do want to keep in touch with this effective association and propose my opinion to improve the quality of Kanoon programs and events. Moreover, I would love to guide Zoroastrian youths in their education by introducing appropriate materials and also sharing my experience. I am actually advising one of them and like to extend it to more students.

Watch Negin's video by clicking here