Graduate Students

Ali A. Olomi

A. OlomiDegrees:
Ph.D. - Student - History, University of California, Irvine
M.A. - History, University of California, Irvine
B.A.- History, University of California, Los Angeles

Ali. A. Olomi works on the cultural and intellectual history of the Middle East. His research focuses on protonationalism and the emergence of the Persian project under the Samanid dynasty. He studies the dynasty's alignment with ancient history with the fusion of Islamic and Zoroastrian ideas into the formation of a unique identity. His previous research focused on the pan-Islamic movement of Al Afghani. He hopes to marry the two projects through a genealogy of nationalism in the Persianate world and the Middle East. He also has a keen interest in world history.

Hesam Abedini

Ph.D. - Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology, University of California, Irvine
B.A. - Music Composition, University of California, San Diego

Hesam Abedini is an Iranian-American performer, composer and improviser residing in Irvine, CA. His work crosses the boundaries between idioms as wide as contemporary music, classical Iranian music and free improvisation. Hesam’s music have been performed by various musicians and ensembles such as, selected members of the Atlas Ensemble, Del Sol Quartet, and Mark Dresser’s Bass Ensemble. He is the founding member of the Sibarg, a world music ensemble that combines traditional Iranian and Jazz music in order to create a sense of unity and peace and facilitate interculturalism. Since 2011, under the supervision of Dr. Hossein Omoumi, Hesam has studied classical Iranian music and directed the NEA-sponsored Documentary film “From Isfahan to Iran”. He is a graduate of the Tehran Music Conservatory and holds his B.A. in Music Composition with honors from the University of California, San Diego. He studied music composition with Dr. Lei Liang, Chinary Ung, Anthony Davis and improvisation with Mark Dresser. Currently, Hesam is pursuing his Ph.D. in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology at the University of California, Irvine as a Provost PhD Fellow.

Arnold Alahverdian

Curriculum Vitae

B.A. – History, California State University, Northridge, 2013
Minor – Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
M.A. – History, University of California, Irvine, 2015
Ph.D. – History, University of California, Irvine

Arnold Alahverdian obtained his B.A. degree from CSU Northridge, where his studies mainly dealt with Middle Eastern history, society, and politics. He attended UC Irvine for his M.A. degree in history. Arnold’s M.A. thesis, “Masculinity and Militant Piety in Defying Yazdgerd II,” traces the militant manifestations of masculine traits attributed as virtue to defiant martyrs in Sasanian hagiographies reflecting on mid-fifth century persecutions. His areas of interest include matters regarding group identity, communal boundaries, and violence in the Sasanian Empire and the larger world of Late Antiquity. The soon-to-be Ph.D. student and Professor Touraj Daryaee’s research assistant is also a curious student of world history.     

Keenan Baca-Winters

Ph.D. - History, University of California, Irvine
MA - History, San Diego State University, 2010
BA - History, University of New Mexico, 2008

Ph.D. - History, University of California, Irvine
Keenan Baca-Winters is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico in 2008. At UNM, he studied under Professor Thomas Sizgorich. He received his Master's degree from San Diego State University in 2010. His thesis project at SDSU was supervised by Professor Elizabeth Pollard and was entitled Memoria Hannibalis: Constructing Memories of Punic War Violence from the Second Century BCE through the Fifth Century CE.

His overall dissertation is a study about how writings on Xusro II can illuminate issues of identity across the Roman Empire, Iranian Civilization, Syrian Christians and Armenia.

Conrad Harter


Conrad Harter is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the History Department. He studies the history of Late Antique and Medieval Iran and Central Asia, focusing heavily on the Samanid Dynasty of the 10th century CE and the so-called "New Persian Renaissance," during which period Ferdowsi composed his Shahnameh. His dissertation will examine the motivations behind this resurgence of Persian language and Iranian identity, the successful melding of older Iranian cultural ideals with Islam in the new Perso-Islamicate culture, and the ramifications of this movement for the later history of Iran, Central Asia, and the world in general.

Alexander Jabbari

Ph.D. - Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
MA - Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine 2012
BA - Community Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2008

Ph.D. - Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
Alexander Jabbari is interested in the intellectual history of Iran and India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His project examines Persianate literary history-writing and its relationship to nationalism, nation-building, and colonial modernity, as well as the emergence of Persian literature as a discipline in Iran and South Asia, with particular attention to Indo-Persian literature and the works of Muhammad-Taqi Bahar and Shibli Nu'mani.

Deanna Kashani

Visual Studies, UC Irvine
Visual Studies, UC Irvine
History of Modern Middle East and History of Modern South Asia, Brown Universirty

Research interests include modern and contemporary Iranian art, history of exhibition practices in Iran, ethics in museum practices, issues of national identity and repatriation, arts activism and feminist studies.

Sheiba Kian Kaufman

Ph.D. English, UC Irvine
MS - English Literature, 1550-1780, Oxford University, 2005
BA - English, UCLA 2004

Ph.D. English, UC Irvine

Sheiba's research interests include European literature, particularly Renaissance Drama, and representations of ancient Persia, diplomacy, cosmopolitanism, global citizenship and European peace proposals from Emeric Cruce to Immanuel Kant.

Soodabeh Malekzad


Interests: Sassanian history, Ancient languages of Persia, Dialects of
modern Fars, Persian Folklore and its roots in Ancient Sassanian and
Zoroastrian beliefs and customs

Assal Rad

MA - History, UC Irvine, 2008
BA - Psychology, UC Irvine, 2005

She is interested in the modern Middle East, with an emphasis on modern Iran. As a PhD student at UCI she intends to explore the development of nationalism and identity in 20th century Iran.

Gail Marlow Taylor

Doctoral Candidate in History, University of California, Irvine
M.A. in History, California State University Fullerton, 2008
B.S. in Biology, University of Pittsburgh, 1966

Doctoral Candidate in History, University of California, Irvine
Following her career in clinical laboratory medicine, her research interests include history of medicine and the laboratory and transfer of knowledge in the early modern period, particularly in the areas of alchemy, pharmacy, and herbal medicine. Her Master's Thesis analyzed the Kitab al-Asrar, a tenth-century alchemy text by al-Razi, specifying the characteristics that mark it as a laboratory manual. She is currently writing her dissertation on the reception of New World medicinal plants in early modern Germany.

Parisa Vaziri

Ph.D. - Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
BA - Comparative Literature, NYU, 2007

Ph.D. - Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
Parisa's work focuses on the imbrication of theories of subjectivity and of representation through post-revolutionary Iranian cinema. Her related interests include black independent cinema, film theory, postcolonial and critical race theory.