Institute Contribution to UAE National Women’s Development and Scientific Innovation Highlighted at Forum

Masdar Institute’s role in providing talented Emirati women with the means to be active participants in the country’s knowledge economy transformation was highlighted by an Emirati female faculty member at the Women’s Forum and Innovation held on 30 August 2016.

Dr. Amal Al Ghaferi, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, was one of a number of prominent Emirati women invited to share their experiences at the event that was held in honor of Emirati Women’s Day, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak (Mother of Emirates), the Chairwoman of Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the General Women’s Union (GWU).

During her presentation, Dr. Al Ghaferi credited the supportive environment at Masdar Institute for giving her the opportunity and resources needed to pursue her research ambitions.

“Masdar Institute actively promotes and supports its female resource. Its efforts are supported by the Masdar Institute Women’s Advisory Committee, which helps develop and promote women’s leadership and empowerment within the Institute,” she remarked.

The Institute’s support for women is demonstrated by the large number of its female students, staff and faculty, particularly among UAE nationals. Nearly 40% of the Institute’s faculty and staff are women, with 15 Emirati women in decision-making positions of manager and above.

“In the spring 2016 term, female students represented just under half of the Institute’s total student body, at 47%. Emirati female students accounted for an even larger share, representing 66% of the Institute’s total UAE national student body,” Dr. Al Ghaferi proudly noted.

As one of few Emirati women in the country to conduct research in the niche but important field of nanotechnology, Dr. Al Ghaferi can be seen as an inspiration to the country’s budding female Emirati scientists. Her innovative research is focused on nanotechnology and applications of nanomaterials, including graphene and carbon nanotubes (CNT), for energy and water.

She briefed the audience on nanotechnology and how it will play an important role in the UAE’s evolution into a knowledge-based economy. She explained that when operating at the nanometer scale, which is a hundred thousand times thinner than a human hair, everyday materials begin to act in unimaginable ways. New structures engineered by combining layers just one to several atoms thick of a material such as graphene display optical and electronic properties different from those of the same materials’ bulk structures.

“Nanotechnology will impact many fields. It will help make materials stronger, lighter, and more sustainable across a wide range of industrial applications, from solar cells, to sensors, to water desalination,” Dr. Al Ghaferi shared.  She believes that nanotechnology is set to play a crucial role in achieving the UAE’s innovation goals.

She explained how the Institute’s research infrastructure, which includes world-class laboratories, such as the clean room and microscopy suites, helps enable its female students and faculty to pursue cutting-edge research activities that they would previously not have been able to pursue in the UAE.

 

Erica Solomon
News and Features Writer 
05 September 2016

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