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Shahrzad Hosseini, PhD '13

Materials Engineering | Seeing the patterns

Even with the best electron microscope, the view is really just a jumble of atoms to the untrained eye. And the world of big data is not that dissimilar.

Understanding the patterns is what brings value to information, and that’s where Shahrzad Hosseini excels.

As a data scientist with the biomedical company BioSymetrics, Hosseini combines her materials science and engineering background with an ability to gather and transform data into meaningful and useful information.

“During my PhD, I was studying the structure of materials and how that relates to their properties using electron microscopy,” she says. “Being able to go through the pattern of atoms sitting in a structure to form a material, looking for imperfections and why they are happening, made me realize that is what I like the most.”

After earning her PhD in 2013, Hosseini went to the UK’s University of Cambridge as a post-doctoral research fellow. Working with renowned scientist Sir Colin Humphreys, she used machine-learning based data analysis to provide insight into materials structure and correlating properties.

“The field of data science has started to embrace people like me with a science and engineering background who like to work with data and are able to see problems from various aspects,” says Hosseini.

The shift in perspective is a happy change for Hosseini, who came from Iran to Canada to study at McMaster.

Over the past 15 years I have worked in four different countries, on four different continents,” she says. “I embrace change and I love exploring new areas.”

It is an attitude she urges students to adopt.

“Never be afraid of change, embrace it. The least that it can teach you is resilience.”

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