How a Chemist From Iran Landed in the Cosmetics Industry in New York

January 11, 2022

Nasim Farhamand
Nasim Farahmand

By Lida Tunesi

When she was 24, Nasim Farahmand (Ph.D. ’22, Chemistry) moved from Iran to the U.S. to pursue her graduate education. Now, after crossing continents and obtaining two graduate degrees, she is applying her materials science and nanotechnology expertise in an unexpected field. 

“I can’t say that it’s an easy transition when you leave everyone and everything on the other side of the planet and commit to spending five years mostly studying and doing research,” Farahmand said, “but I can say that it was worth it.”

After finishing her Ph.D., Farahmand landed a job as a senior scientist at L’Oréal. She works in the company’s hair fiber discovery domain, where her role is to build knowledge about curly hair to deliver innovation for long-lasting curl definition and shape control.

“To be honest, I didn’t specifically focus on the cosmetic industry, but I’m happy that I joined it,” she said. “It’s a combination of art and science, and it has an exciting environment to work in.”

The new job at the world’s largest cosmetics company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Manhattan, makes use of Farahmand’s training in chemistry and materials science, experiment design, and data analysis. Her time at the Graduate Center also taught her to problem-solve and work independently, she said. 

With Professor Stephen O’Brien (GC/City College, Chemistry), who is also a member of the Nanoscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY (CUNY ASRC) Farahmand studied synthesis and characterization of transition metal oxide nanocrystals.

“Professor O’Brien is a great supervisor and I’m grateful for all his help and support,” Farahmand said. “He was always encouraging students to collaborate with other research groups, both inside and outside CUNY.”

Because of O’Brien’s affiliation with the CUNY ASRC, Farahmand also had the chance to use the center’s state-of-the-art facilities, discuss her research with other scientists there, and attend the CUNY ASRC’s many seminars and events.

Farahmand grew up in Tehran. She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry in Iran but had long heard about the highly-ranked universities in the U.S., and their extensive technology and resources, she said. At 24 Farahmand made the move and earned her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University. When it came time to find a Ph.D. program, the Graduate Center stood out.

“I got to know about the variety of research fields in the chemistry department at the GC and was interested to learn more about the nanotechnology subdiscipline,” Farahmand said. “Also, I wanted to experience living in one of the most exciting cities in the world!”

Reflecting on her Ph.D. experience, Farahmand only wishes she could tell her younger self to relax and trust the process.

“I would say, ‘Don’t stress out!’” Farahmand said. “Even if it sometimes seems that the Ph.D. journey will never end, it will. Just keep doing the work you’re doing and finally you will see the lights at the end of the tunnel.”

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing