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Meet Saudi Arabia's Jasmeen Merzaban, Associate Professor of Bioscience at KAUST

Over the past few years, it has been widely reported that this region is a leader when it comes to female graduates in science ( placing that figure in 2018 at 60 percent), and within the job market, the numbers are also growing (albeit slowly), resulting in impressive achievements by women. Amongst these trailblazers is Jasmeen Merzaban, an associate professor of Bioscience at the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Professor Merzaban has been teaching at KAUST for 11 years now, and her research interests focus on understanding and optimizing the mechanism by which immune and stem cells exit the blood circulation to specific sites within the body. Using a multidisciplinary approach, her studies aim to understand how the body responds to inflammation, to stem cell-based tissue engineering, and other adoptive cell therapies.

Under her guidance, female students at KAUST have been pursuing groundbreaking research as well, such as Asma Al Amoodi, a PhD student whose research on improving stem cells' ability to migrate to the bone marrow after transplantation won her the 2019 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship.

Professor Merzaban is also a past recipient of the prestigious L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship, was presented the Rising Talents award at a ceremony held in Paris in 2016, and has published a number of key papers over the years. Prior to KAUST, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, and before that she graduated from University of British Colombia.

Outside the classroom, Professor Merzaban is also a great supporter of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), working to encourage women to believe in themselves and find a supportive mentor to encourage and motivate them to push their limits. In a recent article written for, for instance, she touched on the importance of women breaking into science-related fields, as leaders and teachers.

“The more that women, especially young women, can see people like themselves working in STEM fields, teaching, making discoveries and breakthroughs, the more we can begin to close the gap. STEM knowledge will continue to be vital to the workforce, and it is critical to close the gender gap as we seek to rebuild from this year's global economic disruption. It will take a coordinated, consistent effort that includes acknowledging that a problem exists, which each of us, irrespective of gender, needs to work towards resolving. And that starts with representation,” she explained. 

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