Saudi female scholar shifts career from podcasting to genetics

Saudi scholar Majd Abdul Ghani. (Supplied)

A 23-year-old Saudi female scholar growing up in a home passionate about science and knowledge, pursued an interest in "deciphering the genetic code" after winning "Oscar Radio" award and the Golden Award in the New York Festivals as podcaster.

Majd Abdul Ghani spoke to Al Arabiya about her participation in a "Wudcast" competition: "I participated in a competition organized by Radio Diaries in search of a new person to record his diary in the form of a podcast. After several months I received a call telling me that I had been selected to start my new podcast; I immediately agreed. In October 2013, I continued for almost two years, recording more than 100 hours. The last day was broadcast in 2016 in the form of a half-hour podcast on the National Public Radio. After a year and a half, we got the silver prize for best documentary recording at the Third Coast Audio Festival, sometimes called "Oscar Radio ", we also won the Golden Cup competition in New York Festivals Radio," she said.

"I am currently studying for a master's degree, and my specialty is genetics and genomics. I have chosen that field because I believe that our genetic code holds many secrets and must be discovered, to understand ourselves, to treat many diseases, whether physical or psychological, and specifically the study of the placenta, which forms a close link between the mother and her fetus during pregnancy, " Majd added.

"Placenta is one of the most important factors determining the outcome of childbirth and fetal health, and with the spread of pregnancy diseases such as adenoma, I believe that the key to prevention and treatment of these diseases lies in our genes, so I wanted to get the best education from specialists in this field, and I am fortunate to work with my supervisor Geetu Tuteja, who has researched at Stanford University under the prestigious Professor Gill Bejerano, and I am proud to be a member of the Iowa State University, one of the pioneers in the field of bioengineering in America. "

Majd intends to apply for the position of Assistant Professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She also expressed her keen interest in developing and expanding scientific research in the Kingdom, in spite of her passion for teaching and her desire to instill the love of science and research in the students so that they contribute to scientific research.

"When I was 10 years old, we moved to Britain after my mother, Dr. Heba Kurdi, went to study there. I saw her going through many difficulties and obstacles on her way to becoming a scientist, because she is a Muslim woman, I saw her do a lot, get several global patents. She looked after me along with my four brothers who are of different ages, without making us feel neglected or lacking enough attention. My father quit his reputed position in Riyadh without a job in the UK, but he was surprisingly appointed as a health attaché there, I think seeing this sacrifice from my father, and this determination of my mother, is an important motivation in my life.

My mother and father are a constant source of support and encouragement for my career as a geneticist. They always push me to seize rare opportunities, develop myself and my work, my brothers too have a great role in promoting my career and my encouragement. My husband is currently studying for a PhD and always helps me think about my research and my experiences - despite our different fields - and urges me to complete my academic career," she said.

Majd wants to see more radio podcasts in the scientific field, to disseminate scientific information in a simplified way, suitable for all ages, the specialist and the amateur, and this project is within her scope and plans after returning to the Kingdom.

"I returned to Saudi Arabia after my mother received her doctorate in Britain. I completed the secondary school and was ready to enter university," Majd said. "I was shocked when I left my country at a young age to find a great difference in customs and traditions as well as the different curricula and teaching methods. The preparatory year was very difficult for me, mainly because of the radical change in my environment and my social circle.

"I started my MA study two months after I got married, and I traveled to America which was a new challenge. I was surprised by the difficulty of the materials and I had to find ways to create a balance between my personal life and my difficult studies with the needs and requirements of my home, away from my mother and my brothers and my family. I find a bit of balance, my mother was the source of my inspiration to become a scientist and her perseverance and insistence always pushed me to achieve and strive for continuous development, " she said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 14 March 2018 KSA 14:32 - GMT 11:32

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Saudi female scholar shifts career from podcasting to genetics
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