Nicholas Bayan Mostaghim '23 Awarded Fulbright Study/Research Award
The chemistry major, whose Fulbright will support his work on a nano biotechnology project at a Swiss research institution, is one of four Fords to be accepted into the prestigious international program for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Sometimes it takes a village to help someone follow their dreams, especially if those dreams involve a chance to study at a famed research center in Switzerland and you are a chemistry student interested in proteins, glucose, and advanced methods of treating diabetes.
That’s the way Nicholas Bayan Mostaghim ’23 sees it. The graduating senior recently received a Fulbright Study/Research Award to further his research in nano biotechnology at the world renowned at École Spéciale de Lausanne in Switzerland. According to Mostaghim, credit for the honor does not all go to him.
“The fact that I got the Fulbright is not due only to my own merit,’’ says Mostaghim. “I had so much support along the way from so many people, particularly some previous Fulbright applicants from my thesis advisor’s lab. Although they didn’t get the Fulbright, they had some really good applications and they helped me and gave me advice.’’
Mostaghim also credits Dr. Karin Akerfeldt, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Haverford who over the years has seen a number of her students receive Fulbrights, and put him in touch with a few. Gabriel Braun ’19, was particularly helpful, he says.
Dr. Akerfeldt also first came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar herself.
But the mayor of his supportive village, he says, is Dr. Lou Charkoudian ’03 an associate professor of chemistry with whom he is doing his thesis.
“I’ve done a lot of work with protein because Lou’s lab is more of a biological chemistry lab,’’ he says. “So this project is a great combination of the things that I’ve already learned using those techniques [and] an opportunity to learn a lot of new things [about] working with carbon nanotubes and building biosensors. It also connects to my career plans. I want to apply to MD/ PhD dual degree programs, and this is a great way to become involved in research that is a lot more closely related to the medical side.”
EPFL is the acronym for the 180-year-old institution in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Mostaghim will spend his Fulbright tenure. The EPFL is home to more than 500 laboratories and research groups, each working at the forefront of science and technology. Mostaghim will be working on a nano biotechnology project to develop better blood glucose sensors that would not require implanted sensors or finger pricks. “That would be done,” he says, “through creating hybrid constructs of proteins and carbon nano tubes, which work together in such a way that they can actually sense glucose, which is pretty cool. And that’s very helpful for diabetics.’’
The opportunity to immerse himself in another culture was an additional motivation to become a Fulbright scholar. “I wanted to apply for a Fulbright because I always wanted to go live abroad for an extended amount of time; I never got to do study abroad,’’ says Mostaghim, who is the son of Iranian immigrants. “I wanted to go somewhere that I’d be able to work with a lot of people from different backgrounds and live in a different culture while conducting research that I’m very, very interested in. This kind of checks all those boxes. I feel super, super lucky to be able to do this.’’