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Sultana N. Nahar
I traveled to Egypt in April to attend the international workshop on Ultrafast Laser Technologies and Applications (UFLTA), visit universities and participate in several important events.
The National Institute of Laser Enhanced Sciences (NILES) in Egypt has been one of the main sponsors of UFLTA. This 4th UFLTA was held both at Cairo University and in Luxor during April 8-12 and I delivered an honorary keynote speech on the application of X-ray lasers to cancer theranostics (a process of diagnostic therapy). Participants came from various universities and institutions in Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Korea.
It was announced at the conference inauguration ceremony that the Chair, Professor Ahmed El Kharborly, was the first elected Dean of NILES. Before the Egyptian revolution, all high administrative positions were appointed by the government. The Program Chair, Professor Lotfia El Nadi, wore a red hijab, outside her usual black or white one, in support of the revolution.
During my visit the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Ohio State University (OSU) and Cairo University (CU) was completed at the signing ceremony headed by the Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Dr. Gamal Esmat of CU. I represented OSU. This MOA covers the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, and Engineering. Work is in progress to extend it to the Medical College. I was the initiator and coordinator for the MOA at OSU. The collaboration between the two institutions was formulated after the international conference on Modern Trends in Physics Research (MTPR-08) held in Egypt in 2008 and was based on the research areas of common interest of atomic astrophysics and laser science. It required several years to complete the MOA, using both Arabic and English texts, and needing approvals from several offices of CU. And the Egyptian Ministry of Education approval occurred during the revolution. The signing ceremony was held in a historical room with many high level CU officials present. The event was covered by the media and was published in an Egyptian newspaper as well as posted on YouTube.
On April 8, the Topical Society of Laser Sciences (TSLS) celebrated its 25th anniversary at Nady El.Kwat Al.Bahria on the river Nile. Internationally known and prominent scientists from Egypt and a number of other countries were invited. Several of them were recognized for contributions to laser sciences and 14 (including myself) were recognized with the Highest Honor Medal. The cultural channel of the national TV NILE covered the event and broadcast it on April 15, 2012. I was interviewed by the TV channel regarding the importance of research and on the contributions by the Egyptian researchers.
For some time I have been in communication with Al-Azhar University in Cairo, known as the oldest university on earth (founded in 970). During this trip I spent one day there. The university has male and female branches with adjoining campuses. Each has its own faculty members but with the same academic curriculum. There are also some joint projects for Ph.D. or Masters level research.
The audience was enthusiastic on the topic of spectroscopy and the solar abundance problem. The astronomy department chair, Professor Nader, commented that they were very much behind concerning the advanced research that I presented and also that their internet communication was not up to the date. Faculty members, from both male and female branches expressed difficulties in getting the right components for experimental research and in obtaining funding. They showed a keen interest in possible future collaboration in advanced research.
At another meeting with the male and female groups at Al Azhar University, we discussed STEM programs, research, teaching, funding, and collaborations. We spoke about promoting both teaching and research with students and prepared a draft proposal to submit to the Deans of Sciences of the male and female branches. I incorporated their input into the final proposal and submitted it to Al Azhar University. I will be sponsoring the program.
I held similar STEM, research, teaching, collaboration meetings with Cairo University. At the office of the Dean of Science we agreed on teaching and research policies for improvement and student encouragement. Besides sponsoring this proposal it was agreed that I would teach a course on atomic astrophysics at Cairo University later in 2012.
I also met Physics Professor Fayez Shahin of Beni Suef University regarding their undergraduate course and gave them a number of books for their undergraduate astronomy course. I have been connected to this university since 2006 when I began helping a physics lecturer during his PhD work.
I had a few meetings with the women physicists at UFLTA, at Cairo University and at Al Azhar University regarding the International Society of Muslim Women in Science (ISMWS). Our motto is to encourage Muslim women to go into science professions. Everyone, including the male scientists at UFLTA, showed great interest in the society. At this time, ISMWS has about 70 members from 18 different countries. We discussed ways to encourage more Muslim women to have science careers and to keep them in the profession.
I had the opportunity to publicize the American Physical Society (APS) at the UFLTA inauguration, at Al-Azhar University, and to the Egyptian Physical Society (EPS) and informed them about the free APS individual and discount group memberships and of the proposal I am making to the APS. Participants from Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt added their names to become part of my proposal.
The EPS was established in 1979 and has a few hundred members. It publishes the Egyptian Journal of Physics. The EPS annual membership fee is about $4 compared to the $128 of the APS. I met with the Professor Sami H Allam, the current president of EPS, and we discussed ways for the two societies to collaborate. Although Egyptian physicists are not very familiar with the APS, they showed a lot of interest in becoming APS members and liked the discount unity membership that I had proposed at the Forum of International Physics (FIP) meeting in Atlanta on March 31, 2012. The same support was echoed at Al-Azhar University and by participants at UFLTA. This strengthens my proposal to the APS. I am now collecting information from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, and UAE.
Dr. Sultana N. Nahar is in the Department of Astronomy, The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and a newly elected member of the FIP Executive Committee.