Mechanical Engineering student Hamidreza Zobeiri wins Zaffarano Prize

May 23, 2022 - by Sarah Igram

Hamidreza Zobeiri, Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering, is the winner of the 2022 Zaffarano Prize for Graduate Student Research. Each spring semester, the Graduate College gives this honor to a graduate student with superior publishable research.

Dr. Daniel Zaffarano, former Dean of the Iowa State Graduate College, believed that publishing was an important component of the graduate student experience. During the hundreds of exit interviews he conducted with graduating students, Zaffarano had a favorite question: “Are you planning to publish your research?” He established this award in 1988, after retiring from Iowa State.

Zobeiri has published 14 research articles as the lead author during his time at Iowa State. He has also co-authored seven articles.

Photo of Hamidreza Zobeiri


As he writes and revises articles, Zobeiri also searches for suitable journals where he could potentially publish his work. He compiles a list of suitable journals, and after a discussion with his major professor, they decide where to submit it. He may then have to make revisions based on the journal’s requirements.

Though this process can be challenging, Zobeiri also finds it gratifying.

“It is very rewarding for me when I see a publication of mine being cited by other researchers in another corner of the world and has helped them in their research, or they have used our result as a reference,” he said.

He has also experienced setbacks while conducting research, but he advises other graduate students not to become disappointed or discouraged during the research process as long as they are working toward their goals.

“Sometimes, a paper might be rejected during the submission process, or you might not get your expected experimental results. But this is part of the nature of academic research,” he said. “For example, I worked on a project for a couple of months during my first year that did not lead to any publications, but it made me very experienced and gave me a lot of ideas that helped me during the next projects that led to more publications.”

Zobeiri’s research centers on thermal characterization at the micro/nanoscale. As the size of materials and structures get smaller and reach the micro/nano level, the way they transport heat differs from larger structures. Zobeiri uses a range of methods to investigate these small structures. His research has applications in many areas, from solar cells and microelectronics to materials science and thermal and optical metrology.

Zobeiri came to Iowa State for this research after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Tehran. Iowa State was one of his top choices for his Ph.D.

“The mechanical engineering department at Iowa State is prestigious nationwide and worldwide, with many amazing professors. Also, when I was looking at different professors and their research areas at Iowa State, I found [mechanical engineering professor Xinwei] Wang’s research area was very close to my interests,” he said. “After contacting Professor Wang and discussing his research plans, I decided to join his lab and Iowa State.”

Wang serves as Zobeiri’s major professor and nominated him for this year’s Zaffarano Prize. In his nomination letter, Wang wrote that Zobeiri’s work is pioneering, groundbreaking, and expected to have a long and profound impact in micro/nanoscale thermal science.

“[Winning the Zaffarano Prize] means a lot to me! Most significantly, I am honored to receive this award, and it means that my research achievements have been recognized by the academic/scientific community at ISU, as it is awarded to only a few researchers in a year,” Zobeiri said. “It also motivates me to work harder and more passionately in my professional life.”

After graduating this fall, Zobeiri hopes to start a position as a researcher or postdoctoral scholar in a national lab, where he can apply his research background while continuing to expand his knowledge.

Tags: engineering, mechanical engineering, academic awards, zaffarano prize