Meet Koushan Mohammadi

Koushan Mohammadi is a third-year Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a new inductee of the 2022-2023 John Lof cohort. 

From the beginning of his academic career, Mohammadi had his eyes set on positive social causes and building communities. As he progressed through his Bachelor’s in CE, water management classes combined with his participation in the hiking clubs drew him to Water Resources Engineering.  

“During my second year, there was this massive river, Zayanderud, in Isfahan. It completely dried up. It was shocking and I didn’t know it was climate change. It took me a while and more knowledge to actually make me go ‘oh, this is a problem. How do we fix it,” Mohammadi said.

This spark would flourish through his research at the University of Tehran. He has published and worked on five academic publications. 

Topics ranged from ecohydrological responses to droughts in South America to using machine learning to analyze climate change’s role in worldwide food security. He was also a teacher’s assistant. 

“Something that I know as a teacher is that I should always be humble in front of my students. If I said that I know everything, then they can surprise me with something that I don’t know,” Mohammadi said. 

After his Master’s, he enrolled at UConn. Mohammadi recalled that the diversity of professors and the pioneering research here encouraged him to apply for enrollment. 

His current research is using solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence, or SIF, as a way to detect flash droughts before they wreak havoc on governments and communities. 

Flash droughts are droughts with a rapid onset. When they hit, crops in the area decrease their energy usage. That leads to lower measurements of SIF and can theoretically indicate a flash drought. 

Alongside his research, Mohammadi is the faculty advisor for the Iranian Cultural Organization at UConn. He oversees the cultural events that provide a welcoming space for Iranian students. 

That brought him to John Lof. He heard about it through email advertisements and from his advisor. 

“As a leader of the ICO, I had to learn leadership skills in a heartbeat. If I probably made a mistake, somebody could come to me and offer feedback. However, companies are stricter. So I came here two hours to learn these leadership skills,” Mohammadi said.