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Zahra Moussavi

#iAmBiomed research because the humanity needs it
Zhara's Biography

Dr. Zahra Moussavi is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering. With over 216 publications, she has received many awards including “Top 100 Canada’s most powerful woman”. She has a relentless passion in biomedical research, in particular to discover an efficient treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. She is now leading the very first large study in the world on Alzheimer’s treatment with a novel technology called rTMS.

I am a Professor at Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Director of Biomedical Engineering Program at University of Manitoba. I am also a Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering. My main job is teaching, training graduate students and research all in equal weight. I also do review papers, grant proposals and university programs (either in Biomedical Engineering or in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

I enjoy all I do but most favourite part of my job is training, motivating and mentoring young talented students in research.

I always knew that I wanted to become an academic, and for that I knew that I needed a Ph.D.

Surprised or excited or motivated? Nothing surprised me but every single learning and discovery excites me. The fact that we can come up with novel technologies to tackle challenging medical problems and improve the quality of life of people is the most rewarding and exciting for me.

This is a tough question; it is like asking a mother to identify a favourite child! I enjoy all I do! But perhaps the most rewarding work/project that I’ve done is my work on early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. When a patient at early stages of Alzheimer’s gets better by our treatment technologies, it is so rewarding and moving.

As a child I was always passionate about science in general but physics in particular. At university I just followed my brothers’ footsteps and chose Electrical Engineering. But as I entered university, the war between Iran and Iraq started; all universities were close for three years and during that time I had the opportunity to go to the war zones as a first-aid helper. The war scenes and casualties changed my perspective of life and my future studies. I decided to become a biomedical engineer through graduate studies to be able to help humanity. That is a very brief summary of how I became a biomedical engineering researcher. The full story takes a few pages!

I do not see any difference in females and males capabilities in anything. All the differences that pseudoscience articles talk about are due to environmental and cultural factors. I envision women gradually overcome these barriers and believe that they can do whatever they dream of doing. How I would help? I give talks about my own background and challenges that I have faced as a girl being raised in male-dominated country, having young children since my Bachelor program, and yet overcoming the barriers.

I would say: believe in yourself; you can achieve what you dream of. Our brain is plastic and there is no limit for human’s abilities. Having a career in science or engineering is not against having a family and children. Follow your passion and that leads you and paves the way.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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