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Niloofar Ghadirian

Niloofar GhadirianI was born and grew up in Iran and moved to the United States 3 years ago. My first foray into chemistry began about 10 years ago at high school when our chemistry teacher gave us the opportunity to try a new practical idea. I came up with the idea of producing glue with natural adhesives and I encountered questions about chemical compounds behind these materials. That project and my passion for understanding the nature of the interactions between molecules aroused my curiosity to extend my knowledge about chemistry by perusing a bachelor’s in chemistry.  I put a great effort to be admitted to a prestigious university, such as Sharif University of Technology.

In my point of view, the undergraduate period was a short period in which one cannot become a professional scholar, so I decided to further my education at the Ph.D. level. I was looking for a great university to satisfy my strong desire to research through its strong chemistry programs and I was very fortunate to be admitted at the University of Arizona to accomplish my goals by providing an opportunity for me to use my previous experiences to face challenges chemists face in biological systems. 

I joined Dr. Nancy Horton's research group in 2017. Our research group focuses on study of enzymes activity and investigate the mechanism of their function as well as study their structures. One of our projects is to study a Human Parvovirus that can cause serious fatal acute infections and is a major cause of miscarriages, mostly causes erythema infectiosum or the fifth disease. It has also been suggested that it can trigger the development of autoimmune diseases. Thus, understanding the mechanism of its function can provide new targets for diagnostics and therapeutics in this parvovirus diseases. Currently, I am working on the central domain of the main replicative protein of this parvovirus which is putative for its role in separating the two strands of DNA (helicasing), protein-protein interactions in various cellular pathways that are important for viral replication and virus production.

Working on cutting-edge research in protein function and structure, made me a great candidate for the Dr. Wanye Cody scholarship. I believe the mission of this scholarship is to continue the excellence in the sciences at the University of Arizona. As a passionate graduate student, I believe that my work is embodied in this mission. The first and most important impact of this scholarship is that it allows me to save my time and energy to focus on my research rather than being worried about the cost of life and education. Also, being supported through this scholarship will provide opportunities for me to advance my scientific career goals including being able to afford attending different scientific conferences to meet pioneer scientists in my field, with whom I can begin to network. I plan to make these new connections in order to also have secondary sources of help for directing my research and at the same time make them familiar with my own research skills and accomplishments. This networking is important for my future career since it can bring more opportunities for finding research positions after graduating from the University of Arizona.