Global Ambassador: Peyman Yousefi

Peyman Yousefi is from Tehran, Iran and is pursuing his PhD in Civil Engineering. 

Ambassador Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Peyman Yousefi

Why did you choose Purdue?

Alongside being awarded the prestigious ESE Lynn Ph.D. Fellowship, there were variety of reasons that made Purdue a great option such as its ranking, name recognition, network of peers, and diverse student body. More importantly, there is this saying that “the walls between departments are shallow at Purdue” allowing students and professors from different disciplines to effectively collaborate on multidisciplinary research areas. Considering my research topics include engineering, economics, social sciences, etc., Purdue was one of the best options to start my Ph.D. and has proved to be a great choice.

Please briefly describe your research.

My research topics at Purdue University integrate engineering and science concepts to solve major environmental problems using an ecological approach. I use multi-method approaches including agent-based modeling, crowdsourced human behavioral experiments, institutional analysis, and qualitative data collection tools to systematically study how natural, physical, and institutional factors interact to shape the dynamics of coupled human-water systems. I examine these interactions to understand the conditions for building resilient communities from local to global scales in the face of climate change.

How did you decide what to study?

For me, everything started with watching Carl Sagan’s famous speech “Pale Blue Dot” in which he delivers an inspiring lecture on how planet Earth is our only home for now. Watching this speech basically changed my whole life as it was the very moments that I realized how much I want to become an environmentalist trying to save this beautiful pale blue dot! Of course, later on I applied for Environmental Engineering programs and finally found the research topic that I’m truly passionate about.

What was your process for selecting a graduate school?

I did consider multiple criteria including university ranking, funding options, programs, faculty members, etc. More specifically, considering my desired research topics and the number of faculty members who were working on my areas of interest played the most important role in my decision-making process.

What is your favorite fact about Purdue?

Purdue students and alumni are called “Boilermakers”, but do you know why? Although it is a nod to the Purdue’s well-established reputation as a world leader in engineering teaching and research, the name has an interesting origin! In 1891, Purdue's football team put a 44-0 beating on its rivals at the liberal arts Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Afterward, one write-up on the game appeared in the Daily Argus-News under the headline, "Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue." The name stuck!

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

Mostly in my office at Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering doing research or in Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering working with students at EPICS program.

What’s the biggest difference between your home country and Purdue?

Alongside variety of cultural differences, I would say the biggest difference was the population density in West Lafayette and in Tehran. For me, as a person who was born and grew up in Tehran with more than 12 million population, coming to Purdue and West Lafayette with its peaceful quite environment was a significant change of lifestyle.

What’s one thing prospective students from your home country should know about Purdue?

As of now, Purdue has the fourth-largest number of international students among U.S. public institutions and is eighth overall among the more than 4,500 public and private institutions. Being at Purdue gives you the opportunity to become familiar with people with different nationalities and cultures that will help you grow personally and even academically.

How do you de-stress in your free time?

I constantly go to the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center at Purdue to workout, which has played an important role in helping me deal with usual graduate life stress.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate from Purdue?

There are two things that I have realized I am really passionate about: a) doing research on topics that I love and b) teaching students new topics. There is a famous quote from revered Nelson Mandela about education that says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” As an environmentalist who aspires to “move the world forward”, I am hoping to find an academic position to not only work on variety of environmental research topics but also be involved in preparing a new generation of environmentalists for the turbulent years ahead.

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