Graduate student Masoomeh Sherazee will cross the stage at Convocation with nine peer-reviewed articles to her name – Faculty of Engineering

Graduate student Masoomeh Sherazee will cross the stage at Convocation with nine peer-reviewed articles to her name

Masoomeh Sherazee
Masoomeh Sherazee

Masoomeh Sherazee, a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) – Biotechnology graduate will cross the stage once again at McMaster University’s Convocation next week. She’ll add a Master’s in Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering to her ever-growing resume.

During her time at McMaster Engineering, Sherazee achieved notable success. She published an impressive nine peer-reviewed articles and received the prestigious Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) Award.

Learn more about Masoomeh Sherazee in her own words, below.

What sparked your interest in biotechnology?  

I chose to pursue biotechnology because it was a field that intrigued me. Once I started the undergraduate program, I found that the applications of biotechnology aligned with several personal goals and that is when my interest grew dramatically. Biotechnology, at its core, is an interdisciplinary field and the prospect of mixing diverse disciplines to form dynamic, innovative technology was very appealing. Additionally, it’s present across a range of industries from agriculture to healthcare, therefore the possibility of producing impactful solutions to modern day problems through biotechnology became inevitable. I wanted to participate in such an initiative and that is why biotechnology was an excellent fit for me.   

How did your undergraduate studies at the W Booth School in the Faculty of Engineering prepare you for your master’s program?  

My undergraduate studies at the W Booth School had primed me well to meet the challenges of the master’s program. I still had a lot to learn once I was in the MASc program but I quickly realized that I had a really strong foundation to work upon and improve thanks to my time in BTech. I would draw ideas from the theoretical knowledge that I had learned from my lectures and then use skills that I had picked up from the accompanying lab portion of the courses. I credit the W Booth School, heavily, for equipping me with the necessary tools to keep pace with the requirements of grad school.   

You have published nine peer-reviewed articles with a tenth under review. What drives you to excel in your studies and research?  

These publications came to fruition as a result of the guidance and efforts of the wonderful postdoctoral fellows I had the pleasure of working with – namely Dr. Syed Rahin Ahmed and Dr. Poushali Das. They were kind enough to let me participate and bring my own ideas and expertise to the projects. I hadn’t realized it until then that I had actually accumulated a robust set of lab skills and knowledge from my time in BTech. Suddenly, I was remembering labs that I had performed in second and third year and was able to adapt it to suit different experiments.

I think the reason why I was able to co-author so many was because I was open to collaborating in whatever capacity I could, even if it meant playing a “small” part. A lot of my drive comes from my goal of self-improvement and, to me, excelling in something is a byproduct of the hard work and dedication one is willing to put in.

Often times, improvement is more subtle and quiet, so focusing on achieving small steps rather than setting one large goal is more rewarding and encouraging.

Masoomeh Sherazee

How did winning the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) award feel, and how has it impacted your academic journey?  

Truthfully, I was not expecting it, so it was a big surprise! It felt like other people were finally recognizing the work I was putting in and that motivated me to work even harder. It was empowering to know that so many brilliant and successful individuals with years of experience behind them were confident in the steps that I was taking. It was definitely a confidence boost.

What were some of the key skills or knowledge you gained during your co-op experience with the BIOx research lab?  

My co-op position with the BIOx lab was one of the main reasons I decided to pursue an MASc. The province was still under lockdown during this time so I didn’t get to come into the lab as often as I would have liked to, but it was enough to spark my curiosity in this field. Through this experience, I honed my critical thinking, problem-solving and technical lab skills. I also collaborated with the BIOx team to co-author a few publications, further strengthening my writing, data analysis and interpersonal skills. The most advantageous skill was effective knowledge seeking; in other words, being able to locate one’s knowledge gaps and determining the best method to fill them.   

Do you have any mentors or role models?  

During my time in the BIOx Lab, I considered my supervisors Dr. Amin Rajabzadeh and Dr. Sesha Srinivasan, in addition to postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Syed Rahin Ahmed and Dr. Poushali Das as my mentors and role models. They taught me the ins and outs of research ranging from literature reviews to data interpretation and presentation. They also demonstrated the very “human” aspect of research which is often underrepresented. For instance, how to handle failed experiments, effectively communicating ideas with other professionals and simply highlighting the importance of creating a community in a field that can become very isolating at times. I owe a lot of my growth as a researcher to these four incredible individuals. Outside of the lab, I like to collect a little bit of wisdom from everyone I interact with because I find that they all have very rich perspectives, so really my role models change frequently depending on the situation. 

What advice would you give current and future biotechnology students who aspire to follow a similar path?  

One piece of advice that I would want my younger self to hear is, “to simply trust the process”. Put your best foot forward and watch your path pave itself. To students interested in a similar path: the jump from undergrad to grad school is tall and wide and can be incredibly daunting, but if you grant yourself the grace to make mistakes and learn from them you are already taking commendable strides. Be cognizant of how your current experiences are shaping your thoughts and interests and try to leverage them to find potential areas of research you would be willing to work in.   

Everyone’s academic journey is different so take pride in how far you have come and help your peers as often as you can.

Masoomeh Sherazee