University News

Biology Honors Student on Fast Track to Medical Degrees

October 17, 2000


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Kianor Shahmohammadi


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MACOMB, IL - - Twenty-year-old Kianor Shahmohammadi (pronounced Kee AH noh
SHA mo ha MA dee), a Western Illinois University senior, is a young man on a
lifetime mission of education and service.

After a year of "traveling and seeing the world," Kianor began his academic
work at Western in 1997. A straight "A" student, he is a member of Western's
Illinois Centennial Honors College, which challenges academically talented students
with advanced opportunities in studies, interpersonal skills and communication.
This December, after a swift three years of study and a host of extracurricular
accomplishments, he will graduate with summa cum laude academic distinction,
the biology departmental scholar and an Honors scholar; and he will serve as
a marshal at the graduation ceremonies.

Since coming to WIU, Kianor has found a home in Macomb; and following an eight-year
program in dentistry and oral surgery/medicine, he plans to return to Macomb
and setup his medical practice.

Kianor decided to become a doctor after he saw his 33-year-old uncle die of
a heart attack in their home. Although Kianor was only four years old, his mind
was made up.

"That day I said that I am going to become a doctor and help others, no matter
what the cost."

As a German citizen, Kianor could have continued his college and medical education
in his country tuition-free, "but the medical profession is the best and most
advanced in the United States, so that's where I want to study and practice,"
he said.

The youngest of three sons of Ali and Fatemeh Shahmohammadi, both doctorate-level
professionals who left their strife-filled Iran homeland and raised their family
in Germany, Kianor sees "education as the most beautiful and reinforcing thing
in life."

He raced through his high school studies in three years at Holbeinschule in
Frankfort, complementing academics as a soccer athlete and a professional table
tennis player. Kianor graduated as his high school valedictorian in 1996 at
the age of 16.

"When you have educational opportunities, you shouldn't take them for granted."
said Kianor, reflecting on his personal experiences within three cultures -
- Middle Eastern, European and American. "Gaining an education is not about
becoming a person of success, but a person of value. Every day has 24 hours,
and there is a lot you can do. There's time for learning, for working and for
fun."

With an underlying philosophy: "We are not perfect, but striving for perfection
opens many doors in an individual's life," Kianor packs more into each day than
many people plan in a week.

That's why to learn more about his chosen field of medicine, he has observed
and assisted with day-to-day activities at Western's Beu Health Center and at
McDonough District Hospital (MDH) regularly the past two years on a volunteer
basis. Last summer alone, Kianor clocked 360 hours during three volunteer internships
at MDH, where he learned about nursing, pediatrics, surgery, osteopathics and
various laboratory departments.

To add to his well-rounded education and leadership skills, he has been active
in 12 student groups and organizations, serving many as an executive board member.
And, "to gain knowledge of other fields than science alone," Kianor worked with
WIU's Office of Public Safety the past two summers on security and parking for
the St. Louis Rams Training Camp and was a student worker in the University
business office.

A biology major with an option in zoology and minors in chemistry and German
(emphasizing literature), Kianor has taken personal responsibility to make the
most of his education. Tackling a decade-long debated topic about what is ancestral
to New World and Old World monkeys, Kianor and his research adviser (assistant
biology professor Jacqueline Connour) received an Honors grant for his major
thesis work, which allowed him to travel to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural
History to collect data and take measurements on small primates.

"My academic advisers, Dr. James Nielsen (pre-medical adviser and biology
professor) and Dr. Thomas Helm (director of WIU's Illinois Centennial Honors
College) had a great influence in helping me to do all these things," Kianor
said.

He presented his research findings at the American Association of Physical
Anthropologists' annual conference, and his research abstract was published
in the Spring 2000 American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Following the completion of his undergraduate thesis, Kianor, with his partner
Andrew Royer and assistant professor T.K. Vinod, began a chemistry research
project titled "A One-Pot Synthesis of m-Terphenyls: A Guided Exploration of
Reaction Chemistry, Chromatography and Spectroscopy." They will present their
results at a professional conference in St. Louis Thursday, Oct. 26. The project
will also be published by the Chemical Journal of Education.

Kianor plans to stay on as a graduate teaching assistant in Western's biology
department following graduation, until his dental/medical studies begin Fall
2001 at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. He will
study four years in the predoctoral program, housed in Alton, which leads to
a doctorate of dental medicine. After earning the DMD, Kianor will serve a four-year
clinical residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center,
which will award a medical doctorate as a general practitioner and a doctorate
in oral surgery.

"Science can only improve through research and scholarship. During my dental
and medical training, I want to work with specific cancer-related research projects
as opportunities allow," he said.

Kianor says that he is looking forward to dental and medical studies, and
that he feels prepared for the challenges.

"I enjoy learning and working with my professors and with so many great physicians
here, and I really hope to have a practice in Macomb one day," he said. "I would
like to thank all of Macomb's physicians and MDH staff, professors, students,
and staff members of WIU who have helped make this happen."

Kianor's brothers also have close ties to WIU. Keyvan earned his bachelor's
(fall 1998) and master's degrees (fall 1999) in instructional technology and
telecommunication. He works with a web-based company. Kamyar, the oldest of
the three, will graduate this December with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement
and justice administration; he plans to attend law school.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations