Rabe’e Cheheltani’s Story

Rabe’e moved from Iran to complete her PhD at Temple University before moving to Penn as a Postdoctoral Fellow. At Penn, Rabe’e worked in the department of Radiology developing gold nanoparticles for use in medical imaging and therapy. Gold increases the absorption of radiation in tissue, and so can be used to improve radiation therapy for cancer. Rabe’e developed a method to encapsulate gold in nanoparticles made from a biodegradable polymer, so these nanoparticles can be degraded and excreted after the radiation treatment. During her postdoc, Rabe’e was heavily involved in the Penn community and served as the Co-President of the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council. She now works as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group.

Rabe’e has worked in the US for over seven years and recently became a permanent US resident (green card holder). The US only approves green cards for select immigrants, and Rabe’e was able to apply as being an advanced degree holder demonstrating exceptional ability in science. She would like non-immigrants to understand how painstaking the visa application process is for Iranian nationals. Iran does not have a US embassy, so visa applicants must first travel to another country to begin the application process. Visa approval –including student and tourist visas- often takes months for Iranian nationals, during which time the US State department conducts in-person interviews and background checks, . While Rabe’e’s own work has not been disrupted due to the executive order (the rule was initially applied to permanent residents, but the Department of Homeland Security reversed this position) she does have friends who have experienced problems, including being unable to start a new job.

Interviewer and writer: Sean McClory

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