Dr. Nashwa Eassa: extraordinary Sudanese scientist

Today marks the World Science Day for Peace and Development, a UNESCO initiative to bridge the gap between science and society and to engage the wider public in the debate on how science can further development. On this occasion, DiscovHER explores the work of Dr. Nashwa Eassa, a Sudanese nanoparticle physicist whose studies have attracted international acclaim and who firmly believes in the power of science for a better future. Dr. Eassa is also the founder of Sudanese Women in Science, a non-profit organization aiming to facilitate the participation of Sudanese women in science.

Dr. Nashwa Eassa is passionate about physics, a subject that has fascinated her since childhood. Whilst many in Sudan consider medicine or engineering as the most lucrative career paths, Dr. Eassa chose to instead follow her curiosity about how the universe works. She earned a Masters Degree in Nanotechnology and Material Physics from Sweden’s Linköping University followed by a PhD from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.

Dr. Eassa quickly gained international recognition for her research. She received a Fellowship from the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World for her PhD studies, which she undertook in South Africa while pregnant with her first child. A few years later, the Elsevier Foundation granted her the Award for Early Career Women Scientists for her research exploring ways to reduce the film that accumulates on high-speed semiconductors and interferes with electricity flow. Her other projects involve developing a way to use solar radiation to purify water and investigating the possibility of splitting water molecules to collect hydrogen.

Keen to share her conviction that science is essential for a better life, Dr. Eassa formed Sudanese Women in Science in 2013. With over 100 active members, this organization fights to increase women’s participation in leadership positions in science and technology, raise public awareness of women’s scientific contributions and further scientific development in Sudan. Whilst girls and boys have equal access to education in Sudan, women’s access to leadership positions is difficult to secure. “It’s not that there are obstacles to moving up – we just don’t get on the ladder in the first place,” explains Dr. Eassa. “My wish for the next generation of women physicists is ‘to be seen and to be heard’. There are brilliant girls waiting for their time to shine.”

Sudanese Women in Science also recognizes the need for a science that works to improve lives in developing regions and to overcome poverty, poor sanitation and hunger. The organization recently launched a cross-disciplinary research team to work on water treatment projects for the region.

How do you think science can contribute to development? Share your ideas @4womeninscience.

For Women in Science

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