Committed to recognizing excellence in individuals with superior academic performance, the Houtan Scholarship Foundation also acknowledges students who study Persian history, culture, civilization and language.
“This achievement marks an important milestone in my educational endeavors,” says Mortaheb, who’s on the urban and architectural history track with a specialization in urban environmental studies.
“It definitely means a lot to me as I am reaching a critical stage in my academic life. I am very grateful to have received funding—in forms of scholarship and award—from the NJIT School of Architecture since 2012,” he adds.
“It also encourages me to maintain high standards in research and data collection,” Mortaheb adds. “It feels great to realize that all your efforts are seen, valued and appreciated.”
Mortaheb was born in Isfahan, Iran and earned a MArch and an M.S. in spatial planning from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. His current research interests include the history of oil and architecture and urbanism in the first half of the 20th century.
“My dissertation is focused on the urban history of Iran's first petro-polis (oil-city), Abadan, which emerged in the beginning of the 20th century on the island of Abadan in the southwestern province of Khuzestan,” Mortaheb explains.
“Abadan epitomizes Iran's revolutionary path toward industrialization and modernity in the 20th century,” he said. “There is a rich literature on the Iranian petroleum industry and its implications for the country's social, political and economic history, but the early phases of oil development across the island through the prism of urban and architectural history have yet to be examined.”
Mortaheb’s dissertation, which he plans to start writing by the end of the year, will highlight Abadan's urban history by underlining the roles played by the local communities as well as the emerging Iranian nationalist political forces in shaping Abadan's urban form.
The research will contribute to the growing scholarship on the urban and architectural history of Iran's provincial urban centers and challenge the mainstream literature, which, he says, “employs a center-periphery dichotomy and places political, social and cultural emphasis only on the country's major cities such as Tehran, Esfahan and Tabriz.”
Because his dissertation calls for large-scale archival research (last year he consulted the Iranian National Archive), Mortaheb will spend the summer at both the British National and British Petroleum Archives housed at the University of Warwick in England.
“Historical research entails lots of expenses which necessitate looking into outside sources,” he says. “Thankfully, there are numerous NGOs and foundations that support scientific historical research.”
In addition to the subsidy, Mortaheb is also deeply grateful for the mentorship and advisement of the College of Architecture and Design faculty, like distinguished professor Zeynep Celik, who “helped me to refine my critical inquisitiveness and sharpen my research agenda” and professor Karen Franck, coordinator of the Joint Ph.D. Program in Urban Systems, and associate professor Gabrielle Esperdy “for their abundant sympathy and genuine guidance since I joined the program in 2012, and over the course of my research.”
Upon completion of the Ph.D. program (he’s on track to graduate in 2018), Mortaheb hopes to convert his dissertation into a book and acquire tenure at a prestigious university.
“I love teaching, conducting research and working in academia,” he says. “I wish to become a scholar of urban and architectural history in Iranian studies and contribute to the dynamic field of research on Iran's material culture.”
One of the nation’s leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills.
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