I entered the University of Tehran as an undergraduate physics student after ranking amongst the top 1% on the Concours (the national university entrance exam). There, I had the chance to take several upper-level courses in physics and mathematics, such as Mathematical Physics I, II, III, Group Theory, Advanced Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, Particle Physics, and Solid State Physics in addition to several graduate level courses that I audited at the Sharif University of Technology and Institute for Research in Basic Sciences (IPM). Despite my rigorous course selection, throughout my undergraduate studies, I was able to maintain a GPA that was amongst the top 5% each semester (“Excellent in Term”), leading to my status as an “Outstanding Student”. Finally, I graduated the University of Tehran, being ranked first amongst my class.
As a junior student, I began to work with Dr. MirFaez Miri as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. I Conducted a literature review on revised rate equation for chemical reactions in non-dilute environments, such as the core of a cell. The problem with any truncated virial expansion for dense fluids is that it rapidly fails to account for the fluid properties as the density increases. Any attempt to use expansions in a small parameter such as the density is bound to failure, simply because in dense fluids there is no such small parameter. This is in contrast with the theory of solids, where one can use expansions in the particle displacements about the lattice sites, which gives a well defined and accurate model: the harmonic solid. There is no equivalent reference model in the theory of liquids (dense fluids). Therefore, a radically different method is used, and this method is based on probabilistic arguments, mathematically expressed in terms of distribution and correlation functions. I learned much about correlation functions and their mathematical properties through this project.
During my final year at the University of Tehran, I began working on a research project regarding the emergence of the arrow of time with Dr. Mahdiyar Noorbala. The core idea of this project was that the thermodynamic arrow of time (i.e., the direction of the increase in entropy) emerges as a result of course graining. I contributed to this work by reviewing the preferred basis problem in quantum mechanics and the solution suggested by the quantum decoherence. I argued that the Schmidt decomposition of a multipartite system, if it exists, is always unique, resulting in the superselection of eigenstates of the system-environment interaction hamiltonian. My thesis, partially based on this literature was further expanded to a comprehensive review of quantum decoherence, envariance and quantum darwinism. Following this work, my advisor later published on how a specific choice of the interaction hamiltonian (hence, a choice of preferred basis) could result in the decrease of the entropy (thus, a reverse arrow of time).
In addition to course work and research, I also served as a chief member of the scientific society of physics students, coordinating multiple different scientific activities for the student body of the University of Tehran and the general public. I was involved with annual events such as the open days at the department of physics (supported by the Physics Society of Iran, Institute for research in basic sciences (IPM) and University of Tehran), International Science Day, and monthly scientific trips to observation sites. I also organized the annual Physics Day (PhyDay) conference held by the scientific society of physics students.
After graduating from the University of Tehran in July 2014, I commenced my post-graduate studies as a Ph.D. student at Stony Brook University in the United States. During my first year at Physics and Astronomy Department of Stony Brook University, ranked 13 by the National Research Council in 2010, I committed my time to core courses and independent reading of theoretical physics and mathematics. During this time, I also continued working on an independent research project, stemming from an earlier problem I had developed during my undergraduate studies. Further, being at Stony Brook University was opportune for interacting with multiple scholars at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (SCGP), where I increasingly learned about new research in different fields, and started to work on tensor networks and models of quantum gravity based on condensed matter systems.