My name is Mahrokh Avazpour, I come from Iran and now I am postdoctoral researcher in DCU.

When I started my high school in the field of physics and mathematics I was excited about the name of physics even I didn’t know what physics was but I was very impressed and curious about that. I would say my best class moment would be from my physics classes in the high school. I remember in the last year of high school our physics teacher decided we would do an experiment about the bending of light. Using one plastic bottle of water and a laser. Although the experiment seems very easy, she asked us a sequence of questions which required us to give more in depth answers, starting with something like “How are you feeling?” and “Why do you think that is?”. To answer these questions I read some magazines about light and in fact it opened my eyes and from that time I became very interested in optics. I think that experience were really fun and interesting and I never forget how to bend the light. I’ve never done anything like that in a class before.

After I finished my Bachelor degree in physics I used to think a lot about what I like to do!! I realised that being a scientist as a job could help me connect some of my personal desires that I would then do for my job. I was interested in the outdoors, travelling, attending the scientific conferences, meeting scientists, and understanding more. My husband always inspired me by sharing his passion for science. He was master of physics that time and I used to speak a lot with him about physics and what I like to do and see if a scientific job fits with my passions. All together this is what inspired me to become a scientist.

I had very long journey and sometimes was very difficult to continue but because I love optics and was surprised all the time about applications and nature of light, I don’t give up.

When I decided to continue higher education and study abroad I had a two years old baby and my husband was employee of government in Iran and he didn’t want to drop his job. It was a very challenging time for me to decide go abroad with a small baby and without my husband. In fact I wanted to challenge myself. That time I never thought that I would become a success while I couldn’t speak English perfectly. First six months was very difficult, I remember the time I cried and called to my husband that I cannot continue. “Think about your wishes that you want to become a scientist”, my husband says. Every day I put my son in kindergarten and took my classes in university then going to library to study. It was unbelievable I became a first class at first semester. That time I had a small project and I started to understand how to read papers and what to look for.

After I graduated from my two-year Master’s program in India I realized that I wanted to become a researcher and from that time my research journey started and still I am in journey. I got a research program about the property of light on liquid crystals in Malaysia and worked on for 2 years. I got international Gold medals for that project as well as publications. To be honest that project was not my interest because it was more about chemistry and light, at that time I decided to search for doing PhD on lasers. I got a scholarship from Mexican government for a PhD and I had unforgettable research experiences about fiber lasers. As time went on, I discovered more about research projects, I found out how much fiber lasers are useful for optical communications, I applied for SPARKLE fellowship and I become success. I understand you will always be adjusting and refining your skills as the audience becomes smarter and the problems become harder.

I realised that life is not exactly what you had originally planned for. The only thing that stays similar during life is who you are and your interests. In my personal life, I sometimes become amazed at how life has turned. If you are interested in some topic but you don’t know exactly what that is, you just ask, but do not ask from every one I think you have better result if you ask from the people who are specialist in that topic. Don’t forget people come into your life to teach you something, but you should be smart enough to find your way, because you are an only person who knows your capacity. It is normal if you are unsure about your career to pass, you should learn and try to search about what is your purpose of your career. If you focus on your interests at a time, you can reach to that or maybe you need to change your career because there are a lot of factors that influence the way you chose.

Sparkle has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 847652 and from Science Foundation Ireland.