Hesam Abedini

Ph.D. Candidate - Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology, UC Irvine
B.A. - Music Composition, UC 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

Ph.D. Candidate – History, University of California, Irvine
M.A. – History, University of California, Irvine, 2015
B.A. – History, California State University, Northridge, 2013

Curriculum Vitae

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.     

Adib Ghorbani

Ph.D. Candidate - Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology, UC Irvine

Adib Ghorbani is an Iranian Pianist, composer, and improviser. He earned his bachelor’s degree in piano performance at the Art University of Tehran and his master’s degree in music composition at Tehran University. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in ICIT program at UCI.

He has various compositions in different genres for orchestras, contemporary ensembles, choirs, jazz ensembles, improvisers, movies, and plays. As a theater composer, he has collaborated with well-known Iranian directors such as Ali Rafiee. Adib as an improviser and performer has had concerts and recordings with musicians from all around the world such as Enzo Favata (Italian saxophonist), Marcello Peghin (Italian guitarist), Samuel Rohrer (Swedish drummer), Joe Begre Myre (Norwegian double bass player), and Andreas Knustrad (Norwegian Drummer). He also had the honor to play in many live performances with one of the pioneers of future jazz, Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvear in Iran.

About his recent activities, he has performed on stage and recorded an album with Joe Berger, Andreas Knustrod and Soheil Shayesteh as Saboo Quartet Project, which will be released in 2018 in Norway.

Babak Mazloumi

Ph.D Candidate - Comparative Literature, UC Irvine
M.A. - Humanities & Social Thought, New York University, 2015

Research Interests: Contemporary Persian literature, literary translation (theory and practice), literary geography and cartography, literature and philosophy.

Niloufar Shiri

Ph.D. Candidate - Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology, UC Irvine
B.A - Music Composition, UC San Diego

Niloufar Shiri (b.1992), composer, Kamancheh player, and improviser is a graduate of the Tehran Music Conservatory where she closely worked with Maestro Saeed Farajpouri on Kamancheh Performance. Niloufar received her bachelor with honor in composition from the University of California, San Diego where she studied composition with Professors Lei Liang, Katherina Rosenberger, and improvisation with Mark Dresser. In conjunction with her studies at UC San Diego, she has also been directly studying and researching Persian Classical Music with Maestro Hossein Omoumi, a Professor at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine since 2010. In 2012, the research received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in integrated composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT) at University of California, Irvine where she has been awarded provost Ph.D. fellowship from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts as well as a UC Irvine Diversity Recruitment Fellowship.

 Simin Amini

M.A. Art History.  Alzahra University. Tehran, Iran
M.A. Near and Middle Eastern Studies. SOAS University of London.

B.A. Fashion and textile design. Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran

Research interests: Ancient Iran Art and Archaeology, Persian mythology and literature, Zoroastrianism, Islamic Art art and Archaeology, Museum Studies.


Amirali Ardekanian


B.A., Art History, University of California, Los Angeles

Research Interests: The History of Photography in Iran, The reception of Ancient Iran during 19th and 20th Century, Iran.


Melissa DePierro       



M.A. Art History, University of Georgia
B.A. (with distinction) Art History and Classical Archaeology, UNC Chapel Hill

Research Interest: Cross cultural interactions between Persian and Greco-Roman empires, animals in antiquity, Roman mosaics, Roman North Africa, Achemenid Egypt, Late antiquity


Mark Gradoni 


First Field: Middle Eastern History
Second Field: World History

Specialization: Ancient Iran and the Premodern Persian World
Thematic Emphases: Ancient Economy, Numismatics, Legitimacy and Authority, Cultural Syntheses, Identity, Control and Popular Resistance

Biographic/Research Abstract:
Mark Gradoni studies the Middle East and Central Asia in Late Antiquity, particularly Sasanian Ērānšahr and the broader Iranian cultural sphere. His research seeks to incorporate art historical and archaeological methodologies for the study of material cultural production with traditional historical scrutiny of written sources to create a more integrated approach to the study of the economic and social history of the ancient Iranian world.
Mark holds a M.A. in the Humanities from Hood College, where he studied the art history and archaeology of the ancient Near East, as well as a pair of B.A.s in Ancient Studies and History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is also a trained archaeologist, and has conducted survey and exaction fieldwork on various projects in the eastern United States, Romania, and Jordan.