Two years after UIA Flight PS752 tragedy, UBC Civil Engineering remembers Dr. Mehran Abtahi

Two years ago, on January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down shortly after taking off from the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people onboard, including 63 Canadians. Among those were four members of the University of British Columbia community, including Dr. Mehran Abtahi, who was a postdoctoral research fellow in our Department.

Born and raised in Iran, Dr. Abtahi came to UBC in 2019 after completing his PhD in Process and Environmental Engineering at the Université de Toulouse, University of Twente, and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. His doctoral research focused on the removal of micropollutants from wastewater using bioaugmented-moving bed biofilm reactors, nanofiltration membranes, and annealed polyelectrolyte multilayer-based membranes.

While in Iran, he obtained a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Tehran and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering from Azad University. He also worked as a Senior Expert with Parsjooyab Consulting designing modern water and wastewater treatment plants.

Dr. Abtahi published numerous refereed papers and served on the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Health and Sustainable Development.

In the short time that he worked in the Department, Dr. Abtahi made a strong impression as someone who was diligent, selfless and always willing to support others.

In honour of the memories of him and the other UBC members whose lives were lost in the tragedy, the UBC and the Iranian-Canadian community established the Iranian Student Memorial Award, which is annually awarded to “outstanding undergraduate and graduate students of Persian or Iranian heritage, or who are studying Persian Studies.”

On the second anniversary of this tragic event, we are thinking of the families, friends, and colleagues of not only Dr. Abtahi, but of all the individuals who were lost to the disaster.