In Memoriam - Nasim Rahmanifar

Inspiring student helped others through biomedical engineering. Nasim Rahmanifar was a true friend and a gifted student.

Rich Cairney - 16 January 2020

Nasim Rahmanifar was an outstanding student who brought her reputation for academic excellence to Canada from Iran, when she began working toward her PhD in mechanical engineering a year ago.

She was also "a true friend," says Ramin Fathian, a fellow student who worked with Nasim under the supervision of professor Hossein Rouhani, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"We were officemates since May," said Fathiyan, who describes Nasim as "a caring and inspiring colleague."

Nasim earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran, in 2017 and 2019 respectively. She started a master's program in mechanical engineering at the U of A in 2019 and the quality of her research was such that her supervisor suggested she transfer to the PhD stream. She planned to start in that stream this month.

Her research focused on in-field assessment of the risk of pressure injury and repetitive strain injury in the shoulders of wheelchair users. This area is intellectually challenging and holds the potential to improve the health of wheelchair users through injury prevention.

Rouhani says he was impressed when Nasim applied to join him for a master's program that offered the option of moving into a PhD.

"She had full-marks GPA in her bachelor and master's degree programs and I know it's a tough university - I studied there myself," he said. "Why would I hesitate with such a student?"

Grades don't tell anyone's full story, though.

"To be honest, I am very picky about selecting PhD students," Rouhani said. "You need to be sure you can work well together for four years."

It didn't take long for Nasim to demonstrate that her character matched her academic abilities.

It took Rouhani just four months to offer Nasim the chance to convert to a PhD program, which she was eager to do. "And again, here she had a GPA of 4 out of 4," he said.

"The pace of work for her, her diligence, the care she had and her extraordinary technical background - she did in the first eight months what I expect from a master's student, while taking courses and working as a TA," he said.

Her supervisor and her fellow students miss her deeply.

"Words cannot describe the grief I'm feeling," said Fathian. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Nasim. She will be truly missed, but her memories will always remain."