Pedram Masoudi, an Iranian joint PhD candidate

Pedram Masoudi from Iran is currently doing a joint PhD at Université de Rennes 1 in Geosciences (Earth Sciences) and at the University of Tehran in the School of Mining Engineering (PhD in Exploration Engineering)

Pedram Masoudi. Illustration: Emma Burr

Why did you decide to do a joint PhD with Université de Rennes 1?

I’d already begun my thesis in Iran where my PhD director is Dr. Hossein Memarian. Over there, a doctoral degree takes 4 years to complete. The first year consists of course work which is followed by a minimum of three years for the thesis. Before starting my thesis, I came into contact with my French thesis director Dr. Tahar Aïfa via internet. He was the editor of a publication I'd submitted a paper to. My Iranian professors recommended the Université de Rennes 1 and the university had a good background in my field. After that, I started to write a thesis proposal, the title of which is Application of hybrid uncertainty-clustering approach in pre-processing well-logs, in Iran, and I defended the proposal in January 2014. I did half my joint PhD in Iran and now I’m halfway through my period in France.

What are the main differences between France and Iran in terms of doing research?

There are a lot of laboratories in France and they are better equipped. Science is anchored in the past here whereas in Iran the oldest university is only, let's say, 90 years old! I can’t really compare the students here with those in Iran but Iranian students are very motivated!

What are the advantages of doing an international joint PhD?

The experience we gain is important. In Iran, I worked in different universities which was interesting and a good aspect of my university in Tehran is that the professors have diplomas from Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Iran, and so on. This diversity is very interesting but coming to Université de Rennes 1 has broadened my horizons.

Where do you imagine you’ll be in 5 years?

Ideally, I’d like to do a postdoctoral degree, maybe in Europe, and work in a university. If I can’t find an academic job, I’d like to work in a research unit in industry. I’d like to work in France because I want to learn more about the work culture here. I’ll return to Iran to defend my thesis but I'll come back to France to do a postdoctoral degree if I can.

Have you had the opportunity to present an article in a colloquium?

In relation to my thesis, I've already submitted two papers to international scientific journals but I don't have the final decision yet. My thesis director and I were in Iran for two weeks recently to present two of my papers. And my director was there as the conference keynote speaker, also to discuss the GundiShapur Programme 2016 No. 35620UL (Gundishapur is the Franco-iranian Hubert Curien Partnership, or 'PHC') and the elaboration of a project between Université de Rennes 1 and the University of Tehran. The project is closely related to my thesis. The title of the project is Developing Possibilistic Approach in Identifying Productive Intervals within Petroleum Reservoirs.

I presented two articles at the 4th International Mine and Mining Industries Congress in Tehran in November 2016: Methodology-selection by Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process for Studying Net Pays and Clustering as an efficient tool for assessing fluid content and movability by resistivity logs.

What language do you work in?

I work in English and Persan. And I'm learning French here at the university.

Did you find the administrative procedure complicated for doing a joint PhD with a French university?

No, it wasn't difficult at all. It was a lot easier than I thought in fact!

And from a cultural point of view, are Iran and France very different?

Yes! But I had time to prepare myself before I left. The first couple of months were a little difficult.

Do you think we have a false image of Iran in France?

It's very varied. Sometimes I meet people who think there is a war in Iran at the moment! And sometimes I meet people who know Iran better than me!

Do you follow the news in Europe?

I read Le Monde, which is good for my French, but I just look at the main stories to be aware of what's happening in the world. I also listen to the radio in the evening.

And what about life in Rennes? Do you do sport or other activities?

I do quite a lot of things. I play football with my colleagues at Geosciences or with my Iranian friends in Rennes. I've also been to the opera. I've visited other towns, for example, Saint-Malo, and I went to the Mont-Saint-Michel. I've been on geology trips too!