Forestry Graduate Student Spotlight - Tara Allohverdi

Tara, Ph.D candidate, shares how her varying internships during undergrad led to her to a research focus on natural resource economics and the life cycle analysis of forest products.

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Degree in Progress: Ph.D.

Research focus: Natural resource economics and Life Cycle Analysis of forest products

What inspired your interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in Forestry?

I am, for better or worse, a very interdisciplinary researcher. I took several internships during undergrad at an automotive company doing R&D in polymer chemistry. This led me to biomaterials, I completed an MSc. In plant agriculture at the University of Guelph. There I created, characterized, and amended soils with biochar to grow soy and this got me more interested in the agricultural and forest residues that are needed for biomaterial production. Wanting to understand procurement for these residues got me to realize that environmental feasibility and economic feasibility are equally important to understand.

Why did you choose to study at MSU?

The opportunity came to me. I was considering several different schools but the small department size, dependable funding, and welcoming environment drew me to MSU.

What has been one of your best experiences within graduate school so far?

Attending SAF in Sacramento, California (on my birthday no less!) for the first time. It was a huge and amazing conference!

What do you want others to know about this program?

The entire department is very interdisciplinary. I think there is a wide variety of research that is ongoing with lots of collaboration between lab groups which really strengthens the results of all our work.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?

The very present international community. Although as a Canadian I feel like I maybe shouldn’t count, there exists a community for everyone. As an ethnic minority, it’s welcoming & familiar to come across other Persian students who can give me tips on where to find the right ingredients I’m looking for and make sure I stay fluent in my second language.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

Graduate school is hard but being given the opportunity to publish, carry out research, attend conferences, and collaborate with others so much, is energizing. I can see no better way for me to improve myself than with continuous learning in this way.

What are your future plans?

I’m currently a student intern at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources where I get to carry out county-level economic assessment. I have really been enjoying my time there. State-level work is a draw for me, as well as any kind of not-for-profit work. I just have the desire to see the fruits of my labor in a way that directly helps as many people as possible.


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