Profile: Hossein Toghiani
When he left Iran to come to America 40 years ago, little did he know what his future would hold. He put himself through undergraduate studies by working in a restaurant in Chicago during summers and Christmas holidays, and he completed his post graduate degrees with research and teaching assistantships. Now, Hossein Toghiani is an esteemed, well-respected chemical engineering professor at Mississippi State.
"I have really lived the American dream," he said. "I worked two shifts at that restaurant, and I had a fantastic boss who really valued education. I always told him I was going to be a doctor, and I worked holidays, weekends and Christmases for three years to pay for my undergraduate degree.
"If any students of mine aren't doing well, I bring them in to my office, and I tell them about my life."
Toghiani, whom his students affectionately call Dr. H, loves teaching. He often arrives at his office in Swalm Chemical Engineering at 5 a.m., and he's always ready to help students with their questions. He also acknowledged his reputation for teaching difficult classes.
"Yes, I think my courses are the toughest ones, but I am fair," Toghiani said. "I'm tough, but the students rise to my expectations. When you demand, they perform."
Toghiani's former students have assumed leadership positions in chemical companies all over the Southeast, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, he said.
"It really makes me proud that our students are running these companies," he said. "I'm truly proud of all my students; teaching is my passion."
Toghiani is the Thomas B. Nusz Endowed Professor in the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, and CHE seniors voted him Chemical Engineering Professor of the Year multiple times over the years. He was also selected as Outstanding Graduate Professor by the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association in 2004. He was inducted into the Bagley College of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2007.
Toghiani has supervised the theses or dissertations of 14 master's and 9 doctoral candidates. His research efforts over the years have resulted in one patent and numerous refereed publications, and Toghiani's research expertise spans a wide range of topics including fuel cells, nanocomposites, gasification, pyrolysis, acid hydrolysis, process instrumentation and control, and catalysis for production of higher alcohols and gasoline from synthesis gas.
He currently collaborates with Thomas Lacy, professor of aerospace engineering, and Charles Pittman Jr., retired organic chemistry professor, in composites/nanocomposites materials research.
He is married to Dr. Rebecca Toghiani, a John Grisham Master Teacher and an inaugural member of the BCoE Academy of Distinguished Teachers. She taught chemical engineering at Mississippi State until her retirement this past spring.
The Toghianis have two daughters: Parisa, a chemical engineering graduate of Mississippi State, and Parvaneh, a graphic design graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design.Writer: Leah Barbour | Photo: Russ Houston
Next week … Elim Kim !