What’s your official job at LIDS, and what does it entail?

I’m the administrative assistant to Professor Chan. I am involved in many of his projects, as well as coordinating travel, meetings, tracking things down, keeping on top of things, and supporting his students when they need to meet with him, travel, etc. I am also responsible for coordinating most of the events and lunches at LIDS (trying to find new and exciting food choices within our budget!) and maintaining the HQ office.

How long have been at LIDS?

I’ve been here since July 2006.

What do you like about working here?

I love the diverse work environment, seeing so many different kinds of people with varying backgrounds who are obviously incredibly intelligent. I enjoy the work that I do because it has a lot of variety, is never the same every day and keeps me on my toes. I never know what new request I will have to fulfill. I love the Stata Center and the open feel of the office. I also enjoy the people I work with. There’s a lot of support and good humor, which are key to working or being anywhere for me.

What has the transition to LIDS been like so far?

I have never worked in an environment where people make sure you have all, or much, of the information and training you’ll need to do your job right up front. It’s been so supportive and a lot of fun.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Shiraz, Iran, moved to Ohio when I was 5, then to Albuquerque, New Mexico when I was 9. I went to college in San Francisco and stayed there for a long time.

How did you end up in the Boston area?

I had been in San Francisco for about 13 years and was ready for a change. My sister had moved out here from Oakland with my young nephew and I decided to give up everything I knew and try out the East Coast. I basically only knew my sister and one friend when I moved out here. It’s a lot different to come to a place when you are no longer in school with a built-in community.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

In the past I used to do theater and improvisation as well as various crafts and baking. I haven’t gotten fully involved in any theater scene here, but you can certainly find me dancing, crafting and baking fairly frequently. I also love to hang out with my nephew. He’s a lot of fun, and you can find me doing any of the above activities with him on any given day. I also love to explore different neighborhoods and places.

You enjoy theatre and improvisation. How did you get into it? What is it like?

I used to be an incredibly shy kid, but enjoyed being very silly at home. When I was in middle school, I took a Speech and Drama class and got the acting bug. I joined a Just Say No (yes, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit) group because it provided the opportunity to perform at other schools – that was still in middle school. I continued doing theater in high school both in school and in the community. My first job was doing “peer model” improvisation with teens, for other teens. There was a lot of good drama, acting out situations that kids at risk live through every day and how they can make better choices. When I went to college I didn’t do any theater. Eventually I got back into it in San Francisco and was involved with a lot of different groups, performing all the time. I also wrote and performed a monologue for the San Francisco Fringe Festival about growing up half Iranian.

What is improvising on stage like?

It’s frightening on the one hand, when you’re starting out, trying not to edit yourself too much and just trusting that what you have to offer a scene is valid. On the other hand it’s thrilling when you’re on a roll and you find out where your imagination can take you.

What do you hope to do in the future (goals, dreams)?

When I moved out here I was interested in teaching special education or getting my Masters in Social Work. I’m still interested in the MSW, but it may not happen for a little while; I’m still getting my bearings on the East Coast. I’m also interested in writing, but I’m figuring out what type. I’ve tried sketch comedy and have liked it a lot. I also enjoy short stories. Another thing I enjoy is teaching improvisation and ice breakers to adults and kids. I like to leave my life open to let new things influence it.