The Best of Both Worlds

Chemist Zahra Assar-Nossoni is an expert in the sciences and sophisticated dressing.
Assar-Nossoni wears a Nadine Merabi jumpsuit, a Max Mara coat, Amina Muaddi heels, a bracelet, necklace and ear- rings from local jeweler George the Jeweler, and rings from Cartier and local jewelry brand Vajzë. // Photograph by Sal Rodriguez.

Zahra Assar-Nossoni does it all. She’s a chemist, a lifestyle content creator, a wife, and a mother — balancing everything while maintaining effortless style.

Born in Iran, Assar-Nossoni came to the U.S. in 2012 (by way of Switzerland) to obtain her doctorate in structural biology at Michigan State University. Today, the 33-year-old Northville resident is the manager of structural biology and biophysical core at Cayman Chemical Co. in Ann Arbor, where she and her team assist with the drug design for various cancers, infectious diseases, and more.

Like the sciences, fashion has also been a longtime interest of Assar-Nossoni’s, ever since she was a young girl in Iran. As she became more successful in her career as a chemist, she was encouraged to share her passion for fashion with others via social media, aiming to change the narrative that women in STEM could not possibly be interested in keeping up with the latest trends and cultivating their personal style — or be taken seriously for doing so.

While Assar-Nossoni created content here and there during her doctoral program, it wasn’t until a few years ago that she decided to invest more time in it. Now, as a self-proclaimed “scientist with style,” Assar-Nossoni shares glimpses of her life with her nearly 40,000 Instagram followers, from her favorite apparel and beauty brands to her travels and family time with her husband, local plastic surgeon Farid Nossoni, and their 2-year-old son, Leo.

Here, Assar-Nossoni shares more.

Assar-Nossoni shares a handwritten note in Persian on her hand, which translates to “Woman, Life, and Freedom,” in support of the protests in Iran over Mahsa Amini’s death. Amini was a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was arrested in early September for allegedly violating the country’s law on heads- carves. Days after her arrest, Amini died under mysterious circumstances. “I chose to share this note because it aims to recognize the importance of the women, their freedom to present themselves as they wish, and to live a normal life!” Assar- Nossoni says. // Photograph by Sal Rodriguez.

My personal style is … Chic. Simple. Kind of Persian style. As Persians, culturally, we always have been taught to look nice, to save time during the day and think about, “OK, what to do with my hair, what to wear.” Just setting some time aside during the day and thinking about yourself. It has helped me to choose myself and not copy anybody else.

My favorite shops and brands: Locally, I always go to Good Neighbor in Detroit. My favorite jewelry [brand] is Vajzë, and I also go to [local jeweler George Khalife, aka] George the Jeweler. If I want to look for more [everyday] clothes that are not too expensive, I should definitely mention ASOS, and there are a couple international [retailers], Missguided and Revolve. But let’s say I’m going to an event and I want a unique look: Nadine Merabi, a U.K. designer; I love her.

My go-to skin care and makeup products: As a chemist, I always care about what I use on my body. I use Tatcha, a Japanese brand, and I also use Neutrogena — their light moisturizer and light serum. As far as makeup, I use Dior; I love Dior’s foundation. For a glam look, I use Huda Beauty eyeshadow palettes; they’re very fun to work with. I also use Dior lip gloss. And always Charlotte Tilbury for lipstick, always.

A fun day out with the family: If we don’t want to drive too far, we walk [through] downtown Northville. There’s a kids park there; Leo can play there, and we grab a bite at the restaurants. If we want to drive, we like to go to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, and Ann Arbor has very great restaurants.

The ideal date night: My husband and I love a good date night, sitting at a nice restaurant. We have our own lists of our top three restaurants in Detroit; mine are San Morello, SheWolf [Pastificio & Bar], and Oak & Reel.

My most memorable travels: Any family vacation I take is an amazing trip because you get to do a lot and learn a lot about each other. As for myself, the best trip that I [took was] to New York City for [this year’s] New York Fashion Week. It was my first time, but that was something that I always wanted to do, even when I was in Iran.

What 2022 has meant for me: It was all about learning more about myself — how to be a great mom, how to be a great scientist — spending time with my family, and caring more about myself.

Keep up with Assar-Nossoni on her Instagram page, @thezahracoco

This story is from the December 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.