Young Scientists

Ghada Bassioni : "For every will to come back as a scientist, there is a way"

After her PhD in Germany, the 2018 Next Einstein Fellow Ghada Bassioni decided to return to here home country, Egypt. A decision guided by the end of the Arab Springs in 2011 and a will to help her country.

Who are you?

My name is Ghada Bassioni, I am a professor of chemistry at the Faculty of Engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. I hold a joint appointment at the Ministry of Scientific Research and Higher Education at the Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF). I coordinate the collaborations between Egypt and Germany.

Why did you go to Europe for your PhD?

Actually, it started a long time ago when my parents did their PhD in Germany. So I grew up partly in Germany. And then I went back, when I was still young, I was at the german school in Cairo. During my studies, because my education was part German, I was focused to go back and continue my studies in Germany.

Why did you choose to come back after your PhD?

I decided to go back because I wanted to build up the country after the revolution in 2011. I had the feeling that I had to give back what the country gave me all along the way. It was kind of very rewarding and I never regretted to come back. I have wonderful students in Egypt. We are doing fantastic job together. They have great potential and I can see that in their eyes, starting from the frustration of 2011 and now, they are really growing, they are doing fantastic job. So I feel very rewarded by beeing back to them.

What difficulties did you experience?

Actually the Egyptian system is very great. I mean, they have this system that you can have a position the moment you graduate. They hire the best students in the university getting a teaching assistant position and then you can grow inside the university. So I was keeping my position from day one after my bachelor. So, it was easy for me to go back to my actual university, my position of course after the PhD become assistant professor so it was an easy move somehow. And then, the challenge that everyone is facing of course : money was not available to build up your own lab and so on. But still, the potential is so great because you have wonderful students that enable you to move forward and they give you this motivation to continue. It was always very pleasant to be with them.

What would you say to young African PhD candidates who want to return to Africa?

My advice is believe in yourselves, believe in your capabilities because Africa has great ressources, great potential and the young people. We are a young continent. If you really want to do this, with every will there is a way.

Interview by Anthony Audureau

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