Seeking Illumination


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A Mentor with Global Impact

Razeghi takes her responsibilities as a teacher very seriously, too: She designed Northwestern's undergraduate and graduate programs in solid-state engineering and has shaped a generation of scientists who have themselves gone on to illustrious professional opportunities. In addition to the countless undergraduates who have learned from her, more than 60 doctoral and 20 master’s students have studied and worked with Razeghi.

In fact, her office is sprinkled with tokens of esteem from a legion of grateful former students whose careers in academia, industry, and government she helped launch. The shelves hold Razeghi’s seminal textbooks (including The MOCVD Challenge), conference proceedings, binders detailing highlights of her tenure, and beautiful photos of family, friends, and colleagues. For all her obvious self-confidence, Razeghi also repeatedly emphasizes the contributions of others, particularly her students, whom she extols as “only the very best anywhere.” Some of those former students, like Ryan McClintock, Steven Slivken, and Hooman Mohseni, are now themselves Northwestern faculty members.

Melding maternal affection and mentorship with ambition, Razeghi will frequently exhort her lab team: “Keep going! Go faster! Go, go, go!” This urgency stems from her passion for discovery, commitment to pushing interdisciplinary boundaries, and a belief that, through scientific study, the universe yields its secrets and that those secrets can help provide the tools to help and heal people. She also believes that the more one learns, the more there is to know.

“The atom once seemed so simple — the smallest part of a material,” she says. “Of course, high-energy physics has revealed that subatomic particles are actually very complex and there is always more to learn.”

This week in early February, Razeghi and members of her lab are headed to San Francisco where she will deliver a keynote talk and chair a conference on quantum sensing, nanoelectronics and photonics for SPIE’s annual marquee event that attracts nearly 20,000 industry and academic thought leaders. In addition, the SPIE fellow will chair a session dedicated to recognizing the achievements of younger scientists — the Early Career Innovation Awards in Quantum Sensing and Nano Elecronics and Photonics.

“I have a mission to teach, to train — not only others, but myself at the same time,” she says. “You have to have purpose in your life and be productive at whatever you do. At any stage you can have an impact, whether in science, or art, or music. Keeping human curiosity is the most important thing. I am always thinking ‘what’s next?’”

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