SAREH TAEBI, Ph.D.
By Yaffi Spodek
Can you describe your career path and how you came to FAU?
I have a BS degree in electrical engineering from Isfahan University of Technology and an MS degree from the University of Ottawa. I earned my PhD in integrated photonics at University of Waterloo in Canada. During the last year of my PhD, I did an internship at Intel Labs in Santa Clara, California. I taught at Southern Illinois University before coming to Florida. In 2019, I joined the College of Engineering as an instructor in the department of CEECS.
What are your areas of research expertise?
I study the science of light and the interaction of light particles, known as photons, with electrons. I work on devices and methods for fast transfer of data. Specifically, my research focuses on design, development and modelling of semiconductor lasers, amplifiers and light modulators. A novel application of my research is in development of all-optical computation methods. When we develop algorithms and successfully fabricate devices that can work with the speed of light, the computations become extremely fast. My areas of research include Integrated Photonics, Optoelectronics, Optical Networks, and Quantum Optics.
What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
Fine-tuned skill sets of continuous learning, effective teaching, and persistence in research are the most important achievements that any academician will gain. While I was in graduate school, I received a prestigious scholarship from Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) for the duration of my PhD studies. Later on, I was also offered an NSERC scholarship to complete my post-doctoral degree with a partnership in industry, but I decided to join academia.
Who or what inspired you to enter the field of engineering and computer science?
My parents were my role models. They are both educators who valued knowledge. My father was a professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering who authored two books on water quality and treatment. I remember helping him with translations and preparation of material. My mother was a high school teacher who made sure we studied hard. Growing up, I was always very interested in mathematics and physics.
As you reflect back on your career, what advice would you give to women who are interested in entering the field?
Find a female mentor to guide you. Since it’s a field dominated by males, it can be a very intimidating environment, but you need to seek out those people who make you feel comfortable. There are a lot more opportunities in the field for women than there used to be. You have to keep believing in yourself and build up confidence with hard work. I was lucky enough to have a handful of female advisors and role models, and when I had a mentor, I excelled.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in academia vs. industry or government?
I had experience working in the high-tech industry, but I chose to teach because it’s very fulfilling. I love working with students of different backgrounds, mentoring them, learning from them, and keeping up-to-date on the latest research. One of the reasons I wanted to teach at FAU was because of its diversity. Diversity means being exposed to a variety of skillsets and methods of thought which adds vision and broadens horizons for creativity and ingenuity.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The dual-career challenge, as well as the work-life balance have been my greatest challenges. As a couple, it is difficult to simultaneously build a fulfilling career and at the same time raise a young family. There are gives and takes, and sacrifices that need to be made along the way, and then it becomes the most amazing challenge and path to growth.
What do you find most rewarding in your professional career?
In academia, it’s so rewarding to see my students excel and succeed. It’s so fulfilling to read their emails, see them in my office, or even around the campus, and hear their stories of how my classes have shaped their studies and careers. In industry, it was amazing to see a product I was involved with come to life or a program I developed became the standard of use for many research themes.
Sareh Taebi earned a MS in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa, and a PhD in photonics from the University of Waterloo. She did a research internship at Intel Labs in Santa Clara, California and later taught at Southern Illinois University. In 2019, Dr. Taebi joined FAU as an instructor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where she teaches Computer programming in C and C++ to all incoming computer science students.