Atefeh Akbari Shahmirzadi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and completed her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Tehran (UT). During her college years at UT, she graduated second in class and was distinguished as one of the “Exceptional Talents” of the University. During her Master's studies at UT, she graduated first in her class with a perfect grade on her MA thesis, titled "The Dilemma of Race in Athol Fugard's Blood Knot and 'Master Harold'...and the boys". In September of 2012, she started her PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University (CU). During her first year at CU, she received the Bunner Award for the best MA essay in American Literature. Her essay was titled "From Shiraz to Concord: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Renderings of Hafez", a version of which she presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association at Harvard in 2016. Currently, she is working on a dissertation that examines Iranian literature of the late 1960s in comparison with African Diasporic literature during the 1970s and mid-1980s, analyzing the manner in which, parallel to the development of the Non-Aligned Movement as a response to the Cold War, certain texts exhibited a literary and aesthetic equivalent of "non-alignment". During her studies at CU, she was chosen to complete an archival research internship at Butler Library's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where she completed processing the papers of André Schiffrin, the founder of New Press, and worked on the New Press collection of papers as well. She has also been awarded CU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' Academic Administration Fellowship, which she completed at ICLS, helping the Institute secure a National Endowment for Humanities "Humanities Connections" grant, among other projects she has assisted with at the Institute. She was also an active member of the English department's Diaspora, Race, and Empire Colloquium for three years, helping organize talks, readings, and workshops. She is currently a Graduate Student Council representative in her Department, elected by her fellow graduate students. Most recently, she has become the graduate student fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's two-year Sawyer Seminar on “Global Language Justice” at ICLS.