There is no doubt that women are achieving great things in all fields today, and one such stream where women are doing remarkably is in science. Recognition of their achievements is crucial in showcasing such individuals' work and talents. One such initiative that honours female scientists from the GCC for their groundbreaking research in the fields of Life sciences, Physical sciences, Mathematics and Computer science is the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science initiative.
In 2023, L'Oréal Middle East honoured and recognized 6 female scientists from the GCC region. The program, held on 20 September 2023, also celebrated a decade of empowering female scientists in the GCC and honouring this year's winners.
Ph.D. student Nadin Nagy Mahmoud Younes from Qatar was also honoured for her research on the development of low-cost, easy-to-use tests (LFAs) for the early and rapid detection of Norovirus (NoV) and Hepatitis E (HEV).
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team brings you an interview with Nadin to learn more about her, her research and her message to aspiring female scientists. Read on to find out more.
Nadin: I'm Nadin Younes, originally from Egypt, and currently a Ph.D. candidate at Qatar University's College of Health Sciences. Qatar has been my home since 1999, where I've completed my entire educational path, earning my BSc and MSc degrees in Biomedical Sciences from Qatar University in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
During my Master's, I had the opportunity to work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, which ignited my passion for teaching and mentoring. Following that, I joined the Biomedical Research Center (BRC) as a research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Gheyath K. Nasrallah. This experience deepened my commitment to research and allowed me to engage in hands-on laboratory experiments. My focus on infectious diseases expanded significantly, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. I worked on several projects related to the serological diagnosis and immune response of symptomatic and asymptomatic patients to SARS-CoV-2.
In 2021, I was honoured to receive the Graduate Sponsorship Research Award from the Qatar National Research Funds, which enabled me to pursue my Ph.D. in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Qatar University. I have already published over 35 articles in prestigious scientific journals as a testament to my dedication.
Nadin: I entered the L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science program through the competitive application process. Qatar University's Health Graduate Studies office encouraged all Ph.D. students to apply. I was fortunate enough to meet the program's criteria and was honoured to be chosen as one of the 6 recipients of this prestigious award.
My selection was based on the quality and significance of my research, as well as my dedication and potential to contribute to the field of science. This recognition has been a significant milestone in my career and a source of motivation to continue my scientific endeavours in the pursuit of knowledge and innovation.
Nadin: The challenges faced by the healthcare sector and diagnostic laboratories have highlighted the critical need for rapid infectious agent detection methods to enhance patient care. My research project centres on the development of two lateral flow assays (LFAs) for the early and rapid detection of Norovirus (NoV) and Hepatitis E (HEV). These foodborne pathogens pose significant health threats globally, leading to outbreaks and severe health consequences.
My research's potential impact extends to Qatar and the broader global community. Our primary goal is to pioneer the creation of highly sensitive, cost-effective, and user-friendly LFAs, to revolutionize point-of-care diagnostics. This innovation will facilitate the timely detection and containment of NoV and HEV, especially in regions with limited healthcare resources, ultimately bolstering disease control efforts and saving lives.
Furthermore, these LFAs hold potential applications beyond clinical settings. They can be adapted for testing food and environmental samples, enhancing food safety and public health management. As infectious diseases know no boundaries, our research contributes to global health security by providing accessible tools for rapid disease detection and monitoring. My research project seeks to strengthen disease control, enhance human health, and advance food and water safety, with benefits extending to Qatar and making a meaningful global impact.
Nadin: I am deeply honoured and proud to represent Qatar and receive the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award. This recognition holds profound significance, extending beyond just a personal achievement. It is a testament to Qatar's unwavering commitment to supporting and empowering women in STEM fields. Qatar has been my home for over two decades, and I have witnessed the nation's dedication to advancing education, research, and innovation.
This prestigious award showcases the potential for groundbreaking research in Qatar and the broader Middle East and emphasizes the crucial role of gender diversity within the scientific community. It inspires and motivates me to continue my scientific journey, push the boundaries of knowledge, and contribute to global scientific advancements.
Moreover, I am aware of the responsibility that accompanies this recognition. I aspire to serve as a role model for aspiring scientists, particularly women, urging them to pursue careers in STEM and unlock their full potential passionately. This award reaffirms Qatar's commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive scientific landscape, and I am eagerly excited to play my part in advancing this vision while making substantial contributions to the field of biomedical science.
Nadin: Recognizing women in STEM is a profoundly optimistic and necessary development in science and innovation. It signifies a crucial shift towards acknowledging women's immense talent, contributions, and potential in traditionally male-dominated fields.
Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles in shaping the landscape of scientific discovery, technology, and engineering. Unfortunately, their achievements have often been overlooked or undervalued. The growing recognition of women in STEM proves that talent and capability go beyond gender boundaries.
By highlighting and celebrating the accomplishments of women in STEM, we challenge stereotypes and break down barriers. This recognition not only serves as a well-deserved tribute to the achievements of women but also functions as a powerful motivator for the next generation of female scientists, engineers, and innovators. It sends a resounding message that STEM is open to all, regardless of gender, and that diverse perspectives are welcome and essential for addressing the complex challenges facing our world today.
Nadin: The field of science, research, and development in Qatar has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, establishing itself as a thriving hub for innovation and knowledge. Qatar's strong dedication to research and development is evident through initiatives like the Qatar National Research Fund, which has been pivotal in nurturing a scientific exploration and innovation culture.
World-class institutions such as Qatar University and Hamad Bin Khalifa University exemplify this commitment to education and research.
Furthermore, Qatar's strategic investments across various sectors, including healthcare, energy, and environmental sciences, are actively addressing global challenges and positioning the country as a leader in critical research areas. Collaborations with renowned international institutions further enhance Qatar's research capabilities and promote the exchange of knowledge on a global scale.
As a researcher based in Qatar, I am genuinely excited about the nation's unwavering commitment to scientific excellence and its potential to drive positive change regionally and globally.
Nadin: Believe in yourself; your potential in science is boundless. Cultivate your curiosity, intelligence, and creativity, and have unwavering trust in your abilities. Remember that every opportunity is rightfully yours to pursue your scientific dreams.
Break free from the stereotypes and gender norms that may attempt to restrain your potential. Surround yourself with a supportive community that fuels your passion for science.
Be a role model for others, inspire young women, and advocate for gender equality in science and education. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how big or small. Acknowledge your progress, and let it fuel your passion and dedication to your scientific pursuits.
Nadin: I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to my unwavering support system - my family.
In addition, I am profoundly thankful for the exceptional guidance and mentorship provided by my Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Gheyath K. Nasrallah. His unwavering support and faith in my abilities have played a pivotal role in my academic accomplishments.
Furthermore, I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to be a part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, led by Dr. Maha Al Asmakh as the Head, of the College of Health Sciences, under the esteemed leadership of Dr. Hanan Abdul Rahim as the Dean.
My research journey at the Biomedical Research Center (BRC), under the leadership of Dr. Asma al Thani as the Director, has been an incredible privilege.
Lastly, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Qatar National Research Fund for granting me the Graduate Sponsorship Research Award, which made my Ph.D. pursuit possible.
Nadin: Interested readers can follow my work and learn more about my research through the following links:
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