Chemistry faculty member Shokouh Haddadi recently earned the campus Provost’s Award for Mentoring in Scholarly and Creative Activity for leading students to academic, research and career success.

At the time of nomination, Haddadi had mentored more than 65 students in five years, including summers, said Fehmi Damkaci, professor and chair of chemistry. 

In that span, Haddadi also published two research papers with student co-authors and received 10 campus Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee grants to fund student research, while encouraging presentations at national and regional conferences. 

“She is one of the most engaging faculty members in terms of mentoring the greatest number of students in research activities,” Damkaci wrote. “Dr. Haddadi has a high level of engagement in scholarly and creative activities and has been a very good role model for our students.”

Fellow chemistry faculty member Julia Koeppe said Haddadi excels in coordinating the department’s senior capstone research projects and forensic chemistry minor. 

“Dr. Haddadi is responsible for helping to train all capstone students in how to conduct research, prepare oral presentations and write research papers for the research projects they carry out in their senior year,” Koeppe wrote. “All the students speak very highly of Dr. Haddadi and how she manages her research lab and the courses that she teaches. She works closely with all of her students, and she teaches them to also be good mentors.”

Inspiring student research

Alyssa Aldrich, a 2017 graduate and now research associate at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said taking a class with Haddadi as a sophomore “sparked my interest in analytical chemistry enough so that I approached Dr. Haddadi and asked to join her research team. While on her research team, I helped develop an extraction method to isolate volatile compounds present in carpet fibers.” 

Working with Haddadi provides subject knowledge, scientific writing and presentation skills, and life lessons, Aldrich noted. This led to presentations and a published article, “Screening Carpet Substrate Interferences in Arson Identification by Solid Phase Microextraction and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry,” and continues to influence Aldrich in training new laboratory technicians at Roswell Park.

“In my opinion Dr. Haddadi is a great professor and team leader. She helps her students learn and gives them the opportunities to prosper,” Aldrich wrote. “She has added to my passion for chemistry and I loved working with her. … She changes the lives of students by offering them advisement and opportunities.”

Caden Bonzerato, a 2017 SUNY Oswego biochemistry graduate and now a pharmacology Ph.D. student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, recalled Haddadi being helpful and thoughtful in discussing senior capstone ideas, which became a project “to analyze and detect small amounts of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) within a victim’s urine sample that a suspect may have slipped into their victim’s drink,” Bonzerato explained.

“In the beginning of the year, Dr. Haddadi gave me the perfect amount of guidance to help me learn techniques and teach me how to be a successful independent researcher,” Bonzerato wrote. “As the year went on, Dr. Haddadi allowed me to propose future experiments" and provided "necessary critiques on how to perform the experiments better.”

Career preparation

When pursuing a job after graduation, Haddadi’s guidance helped Bonzerato land a position immediately: “She taught me many life and research skills in how to be a better communicator, how to be well-organized and how to plan well hypothesis-driven experiments. Within my two years as a research support specialist, I was able to become a published author and establish great bench skills that would ultimately help me in graduate school.”

Danielle Chasworth, a 2016 graduate who is now a toxicologist with Quest Diagnostics, described Haddadi as “dedicated and enthusiastic in her teachings” who explains “topics in a manner that not only better explained them, but kept me more interested in the subject matter.”

Capstone research under Haddadi’s mentorship and guidance marked “the starting point of my career,” Chasworth wrote. “She ignited my passion in forensic toxicology. After I graduated from SUNY Oswego, I received my master’s degree in forensic science with a focus on toxicology. Professor Haddadi played an integral part in my successes.”

“Her willingness to help me learn new instrumentation and proper laboratory techniques were and still are valuable to me as a chemist in my career,” wrote Kimberly LaGatta, who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry (2017 and 2019) from SUNY Oswego, and is now a quality control analyst with Hanford Pharmaceuticals.

“Dr. Haddadi’s accessibility in and outside the classroom or lab, her ability to relate and encourage scholarly growth among her students and researchers are just a few of the things that make her an elite faculty member and mentor,” LaGatta said. 

Pruthuvi Heenatigala, a 2020 graduate who is now a chemist for American Analytics, described Haddadi as “the kind of professor who always makes sure that each and every one of her students succeed. … I remember her going around in the class asking each and every one of her students if they have any doubts or questions.”

Haddadi “had a great impact on me to be an excellent analytical chemist,” Heenatigala wrote. “She always gave me and my peers opportunities to work on new research studies in her laboratory which helped us to excel in analytical chemistry.” 

Shelby Barnes, a SUNY Oswego master’s in chemistry student, detailed Haddadi going “above and beyond to help her students thrive, myself included.” 

“Dr. Haddadi had confidence in me, and I am grateful that she allowed me to participate in her research, studying amino acids in latent fingerprints,” Barnes wrote, noting this led to national conference presentations and an interest in pursuing a career in forensics. 

“Dr. Haddadi inspires students to reach their full potential and I am grateful for the opportunity to be one of them,” Barnes wrote. “I have become a better student and person because of her mentorship.”

Haddadi earned her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Waterloo in Canada; and a master’s in analytical chemistry from the University of Tabriz and bachelor’s in chemistry from Azad University, both in Iran.