Newly established director for international engineering student support named

Tessa M. Pick
December 03, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Melika Sharifironizi, former assistant research professor in Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, has been named director for international engineering programs — a newly established joint position with the College of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion (CEOI) and Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering

“We are very excited to have Dr. Sharifironizi join our team,” said Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of chemical engineering in Penn State’s College of Engineering. “She has extensive experience in working to promote diversity and inclusion across numerous engineering disciplines, and with this synergy in CEOI and nuclear engineering, we are confident she will create sustainable resources for the engineering community. She will definitely help advance our capacity to welcome and engage students from all of the nations represented in the college.”

As part of CEOI, Sharifironizi will help the College of Engineering attend to equity issues related to the national origins of its students. Her work will advance student-focused initiatives — including recruitment and retention, academic success, social and cultural climate and job placement programs. 

As part of the nuclear engineering department, Sharifironizi will look to establish sustainable energy systems courses with service-learning research projects and support radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry research and academic support. This includes assisting with summer undergraduate opportunities for gender inclusion in nuclear engineering.

“Dr. Sharifironizi’s vast knowledge of radiochemistry and nuclear waste management will allow the nuclear engineering department to continue to expand its offerings,” said Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering. “She will lead in the design and instruction of sustainable energy system courses that will give our students even more options when choosing their career paths in nuclear engineering.”

According to Sharifironizi, one of her top priorities in her new role will be to build meaningful relationships and establish connections with international engineering students and undergraduate nuclear engineering students by serving as an advocate for them.

“I plan to encourage diverse students to engage in preparation for research and apply to graduate school, as well as for entry into a variety of science and engineering industries,” Sharifironizi said. “I would also like to improve the quality of student life and facilitate better integration of student experiences in and outside the University.”

Throughout the course of her educational and professional career, Sharifironizi has studied and worked in numerous fields of engineering and science — including radiochemistry and nuclear engineering, materials science, geosciences, thermodynamics, environmental engineering and mining engineering — across three continents: Asia, Europe and North America. She has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students from various engineering disciplines and led various outreach and service activities that promote cultural, ethnic, racial, socioeconomical, gender and geographical diversity in student populations.

According to Sharifironizi, this experience has helped to broaden her understanding of engineering students’ everyday problems, passions, needs and goals. 

“I joined Penn State in light of its exceptional dedication to advancing science, education and multidisciplinary research, and its unique support of students’ success by providing endless academic, research, social and extracurricular opportunities,” she said. 

Before beginning her career at Penn State in 2019, Sharifironizi was a geochemist and instructor at Aqueous Solutions in Champaign, Illinois, where she helped design and develop The Geochemist’s Workbench software package — a set of interactive software tools used by many scientists and engineers to create predictive models of fate and transport of contaminants, including radionuclides, in different environments.

Sharifironizi received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mining engineering from Tehran Polytechnic University in Iran. She earned her doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences from the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on actinide chemistry, thermodynamics and reactive transport modeling of environmental contaminants, which has relevant applications to nuclear waste management and teaching energy-relevant courses.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 15, 2021