Dandy duo of experiences for international doctoral student

Dandy duo of experiences for international doctoral student

Hossein Mohammadiarani lands NSF funded internship, access to world's fastest supercomputer

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hossein Mohammadiarani
Hossein Mohhammadiarani

As an international doctoral student in the department of chemical engineering, Hossein Mohammadiarani has had exposure to a pair of unique research experiences since arriving at UNH in 2014.

The first included gaining access to the fastest supercomputer for biomolecular simulations as part of research led by Harish Vashisth, an assistant professor of chemical engineering. Mohammadiarani attended a workshop at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to learn how to access Anton 2, remotely tuning setting and parameters as well as submitting simulations to Anton 2.

“It was a great experience with instructors and mentors there who actively guided all attendees,” says Mohammadiarani. “The one-day compact workshop significantly helped me to save time and successfully overcome a lot of challenges for using Anton 2.”

This summer, Mohammadiarani and Vashisth ran simulations on Anton 2 to study the dynamics of one of the largest and most important proteins in the pathway of hormone insulin, the insulin receptor. These proteins are central players in major health risks such as diabetes. Data from the research could lead to designing novel therapies and treatments for diabetes.

The first allocation enabled UNH researchers to conduct large-scale simulation studies of the insulin receptor protein, which is a major drug-target in diabetes and then construct the first-ever model of the full receptor, according to Vashisth.

Following the Anton 2 simulations, Mohammadiarani traveled to the University of California San Diego for an internship, thanks to a supplemental fund from the National Science Foundation aimed at improving graduate student preparedness for the chemistry workforce. During the month-long experience, Mohammadiarani worked alongside researchers studying computational methods, bioinformatics and cheminformatics who are leading innovative computational methods and forming partnerships with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Staff members also built Mohammadiarani a user account for computational resources and necessary licensed software for his research.

“This experience boosted my skills and prepared me to work in the pharmaceutical industry,” says Mohammadiarani. “During the internship, I followed up on two projects there. The first project was to study covalent docking of inhibitors for RGS proteins and the second project was to screening small molecules to target K-Ras proteins for curing cancers using docking algorithm.”

In His Own Words


What is your area of research expertise and thesis?

The title of my thesis was "Simulation Studies of Signaling and Regulatory Proteins.” In my thesis work, I used molecular dynamics simulations as a primary tool to study folding and dynamics of signaling and regulatory proteins. Specifically, I have studied two classes of proteins. The first part of my thesis reports on studies on peptides and receptors of the insulin family, and the second part reports on studies of regulatory proteins from the G-protein coupled receptor family.

How would you characterize your experience at UNH?

I like UNH because of its scientific community, faculty in the department of chemical engineering, supportive OISS staff and the great nature nearby. We have had seminars in the department every Friday in which an external speaker was invited to present his or her research and findings in related research fields. It provided me an opportunity to discuss with scientists in person and understand their thought process. Prof. Vashisth was very supportive in conducting research studies and accommodations. He provided me perspective toward scientific thinking as well as scientific writing.

During my studies at UNH, I got a Summer Teaching Assistant Fellowship because I have performed exceptionally well as a TA and as a student. In addition, I published several peer-reviewed journal publications as well as giving more than seven presentations and speeches in different conferences. I am also a member of Golden Key International Honor Society because of my academic achievements.

What was your educational experience before UNH?

I earned my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman in Iran in 2005 before earning a master’s degree from Iran University of Science & Technology in 2008. 

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Chemical Engineering