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First up in our 2022 Incoming Grad Series is Shantal Adajian, who will be entering the PhD program in Mechanical Engineering. Learn more about Shantal's childhood in Lebanon, her research interests, and how she became a vegan hunter!

By Chava Nerenberg, Graduate Programming Assistant
Monday, September 12th, 2022 - 7:27am

The 2022 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts about 8 students who are part of the entering class at UCSB.

Shantal Adajian is entering the PhD program in Mechanical Engineering. She grew up in Anjar, Lebanon and received her Bachelor's in Engineering Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies at the American University of Armenia. Read on to learn more about her background, research interests, and some fun facts--including how she became a vegan hunter!


I grew up in Anjar, Lebanon in a small village located next to the Umayyad ruins in Bekaa. I am a third generation descendant of the 1915 Armenian genocide survivors who settled in Anjar, Lebanon. Growing up, we were steeped in stories of how when our village was settled, we changed Aanjar from a deserted landscape to a thriving, reforested one. It is rich with biodiversity, and survived several bouts of famine and civil war, and that is a persistence I hope to carry with me. I grew up in a family of farmers, had my own garden, and grew up connected with nature. I have always been a researcher at heart. I used to collect and air dry native flowers in Anjar from a fairly young age, just in case some discoveries could be made about their potential benefits in the future.

Four years ago, I decided to start my higher education journey in Armenia. The study of science itself is what led me to choose a specialization in Engineering Sciences. The contrast between the clean air in my native village of Anjar and the polluted air of nearby Beirut explained the ecological consequences of fossil fuels. Plentiful, clean energy is an existential priority for Anjar, and power outages are a fact of life. I became aware of this issue at a young age and I knew I wanted to use my education to contribute to the field of renewable energy. This influenced my decision to attend the American University of Armenia and major in Engineering Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies.


I chose UCSB because the values and interests of Dr. Bolin Liao, the professor who recruited me, aligned with mine. His lab, T.E.A. Lab, had numerous publications on wind farms and energy transport which piqued my interest. The T.E.A. lab members were extremely helpful and friendly when we met online and I appreciated the supportive and interdisciplinary environment of the lab. Additionally, I came across a petition created by UCSB students to make the campus 100% renewable energy reliant till 2050. That's the kind of community I believe I belong in.

There are a lot of activities on campus that I enjoy as well, such biking and gardening. Learning to surf wouldn't be a terrible thing either! Also, UCSB's Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) provides fellowships and grants, encouraging students to lean towards a cleaner future. Overall, my values align well with UCSB's efforts and its beautiful campus added to all of its other merits.


During my Bachelor's degree I conducted experimental research to investigate the efficiency gained from combining different efficiency enhancing techniques such as cooling, cleaning, and tracking. My doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering will be focused on fluid mechanics and thermal sciences as well as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in Nanoscale Engineering. I will focus on the ability of fundamental aspects of thermodynamics, heat transfer, and electromechanical systems to solve problems such as energy and material processing. I hope to improve the performance of energy sources with the knowledge I gain.


I used to be a hunter from a young age. I loved animals but never made the connection to the cruelty of hunting until I was 16 years old. I used to go hunting for birds with my father and brother from 4-7 a.m. in the morning, come home and change to go to school. Hunting is a popular sport in Lebanon, especially in the Bekaa valley. I am fully vegan now but still love to spend my time in Anjar's fields target shooting with my family and pointer dogs (I've grown up with more pets than I can count). I would like to try archery as it's a less destructive hobby.

I have also loved photography since I was 10. I used to take pictures with my iPad back then. Now I love spending time with my camera in nature taking pictures. David Attenborough is the person I look up to when it comes to understanding the magnificence of our ecosystem.

Welcome, Shantal!

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