Providing an opportunity for female researchers and scientists to contribute to Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) is a core requirement for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. To that end, Newton-Mosharafa Fund aims to empower women in scientific research by supporting them to build capacities, achieve academic goals, and lead research projects.
The £50 million Newton-Mosharafa Fund aims to support scientific research in Egypt by establishing partnerships between Egyptian research institutions and their counterparts in the United Kingdom. The fund provides the opportunity to build capacities and skills, enhance research collaboration between the two countries, and transfer innovation, knowledge and experience.
In the following, we examine three inspiring stories of women who have been able to pursue their passion for science, achieve their academic ambition, and lead change to develop society through the Newton-Mosharafa Fund. These role models stand as the beacon for a better future for women in scientific research and innovation fields.
Achieving the scientific and academic ambition
Foodborne diseases control is the goal that Nahla Mansour, Professor at the National Research Centre, Egypt, is seeking through a research partnership with the University of Nottingham, UK. The research project aims to find a treatment to reduce the risk of bacterial enteritis, an infection transmitted through eating poultry and meat.
“Newton-Mosharafa Fund has been a life jacket for me to reach a precious goal at an important time in my research career. The selection of my project by the Fund made me proud as a scientist and gave me a huge boost for more challenges.”, Mansour explains.
Mansour emphasizes that Newton- Mosharafa Fund has supported her female colleagues in achieving their scientific and academic ambitions. She was able with the help of her Egyptian research team, which includes four other female researchers, to publish a research paper in one of the prestigious peer-reviewed journals in the field of microbiology and immunology.
The achievements of this project are not limited to the scientific aspect only, as they extend to building bridges between scientific research and industry. In a workshop that brought together academic researchers and industry professionals, the project's results were presented as applicable solutions. This enhances science communication between researchers and society, as well as creates new opportunities for networking with industry and business.
Leading change towards Sustainable Development Goals
In a world suffering from energy and water crises, there is an urgent need for scientific innovation to provide unconventional solutions in these areas. Clean energy and freshwater together, this is the ambition of the research project led by Mona Gamal El-Din, Professor at Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, in partnership with Cranfield University, UK.
Through her research, Gamal El-Din seeks to lead change to achieve many sustainable development goals, through providing an integrated solution involves the use of heat from conventional power plants in water desalination with the help of solar energy. This means clean energy and fresh water at a low cost, while saving the environment and addressing climate change as well.
Gamal El-Din explains Newton-Mosharafa Fund’s role in achieving that: “Newton-Mosharafa Fund offered me the chance and all facilities to innovate towards the sustainable development and community services. I am the female Principal Investigator of the project and responsible for management, communicating with stakeholders, and leading the project's team.”
It is not just limited to SDGs, as Gamal El-Din confirms that her research targets the economic and social development of local communities in Egypt as well. The research solutions provided by the project can contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS): Egypt Vision 2030, especially in the fields of energy, economy, and urban development.
Building capacities in cultural heritage management
Outside laboratory walls and in the desert sand, Joanne Rowland, Lecturer in Archeology at the University of Edinburgh, UK, leads a team of female and male researchers to unveil a forgotten era of Egyptian history. The joint research project between the University of Edinburgh and Université Française d’Égypte (the French National University in Egypt) aims to rediscover prehistoric and early historic Egypt, as well as build capacities in the field of cultural heritage management related to this period that has fallen into oblivion.
The project, funded by the Newton-Mosharafa Fund, contributed to the empowerment of women in that area, which was considered male-dominated until recently. “Through our project, women were empowered as equal members as trainers and trainees in the field. The fact that we had women of all ages and career stages benefited everyone, giving us multiple voices and experience, which they bring and will continue to bring to heritage management and research in Egypt.” Rowland explains.
Rowland underlines that capacity building is one of the cornerstones of this project alongside the research component. The project provided a field training programme for male and female employees at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in the spring of 2019, where 30 participants were trained on the state-of-the-art methods for the exploration and protection of archaeological sites belonging to prehistoric and early historic times. Rowland hopes that this knowledge and experience will be cascaded from the trainees to their peers to develop cultural heritage management in Egypt.