BZU Inspiring Women
To celebrate International Women's Day, we've profiled some inspirational Birzeit University alumni who achieved outstanding success in a wide variety of fields
Nadia Habash rose among the ranks of architectural engineers to become one of the foremost local authorities in the restoration of historic and heritage sites. Habash is also one of the founders of the Department of Architectural Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at Birzeit University and a professor of architectural engineering.
Habash is the recipient of many awards for her contributions in construction and architecture projects, the latest of which was the Hassib Sabbagh and Said Khoury Engineering Award for the best project in Architecture Restoration category. Her winning project, “Restoring Araba Palaces,” managed to preserve architectural heritage while repurposing it to serve a better social role.
An assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Dr. Wafaa Khater earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Birzeit University (1998), her master’s degree in particle physics and high-energy particle accelerators from the Institute of Physics and Technology at the University of Bergen (1999), and her Ph.D. in particle physics and high-energy particle accelerators also from the University of Bergen (2003). She is also a fellow of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), based in Trieste, Italy.
Dr. Khater’s research interests include particle physics and high-energy particle accelerators, as well as computational and mathematical physics. Apart from her academic pursuits, Dr. Khater is also interested in women and physics in developing societies, the spread of scientific knowledge in society, and electronic and mobile education.
Dr. Khater is proud of Birzeit University’s female students and faculty members who continue to set academic benchmarks for others to follow and lead nationally and locally. “Seeing more and more female faces among the faculty members makes me very optimistic about the future; it marks the emergence of a new generation of female physicists. I hope that talented female physics students find opportunities to pursue higher education in prominent institutions and then go on to lead illustrious careers in physics and research,” she said.
Sanade Barakat is a brilliant teaching and research assistant in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Birzeit University, and she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental biology at Birzeit as well.
Barakat is the department’s longest-serving teaching assistant. As such, she had the opportunity to take part in a number of exciting and vital research efforts. “I participated in the department’s research efforts and published my first article in Springer, in 2013, titled ‘RAPD Assessment of In Vivo-Induced Genotoxicity of Raw and Treated Wastewater to Albino Rats.’ I have also worked with an inspirational professor of mine, Professor Khaled Swaileh, on a study where we observed whether treated wastewater used for irrigation purposes affects the genes of animals,” Barakat said.
“I have also worked with Dr. Ahed Bahader and Dr. Mahmoud Srour on another research project which assesses the occurrence of a gene in local cows that stimulates the production of a potentially harmful protein in milk found associated with many diseases. And I’m just about finishing up my thesis which focuses on screening for a fungal toxin called aflatoxin in food items marketed in Palestinian markets and means of remediation from this toxin.”
Juaman Sa’d, Tasneem Jamjoum, and Du’a Assaf
Three Computer Science majors from Birzeit University - Juaman Sa’d, Tasneem Jamjoum, and Du’a Assaf - designed and developed a video game that simulates life in the Old City of Jerusalem. The video game displays, in a remarkably realistic fashion, the mores and praxis of the city and the Arab heritage of the food, desserts, and traditional fashion displayed therein.
The video game, called “Heaven’s Gate,” was designed by the students as their end-of-studies capstone project, and was supervised by Professor of Computer Science and Chair of the Department of Computer Science Dr. Mamoun Nawahdah.
The three-dimensional, interactive video game gives players the chance to roam the streets of the Old City and highlights Israeli violations against inhabitants of the city.
“We created the game to showcase Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital and one of the holiest cities in the world. Our dream is for ‘Heaven’s Gate’ to be the first interactive title that presents Jerusalem to tourists and those who can’t make it to the city,” said Sa’d.
Alaa’ Badwan, Ayah Jarrar, and Safa Jabrini
Alaa’ Badwan, Ayah Jarrar, and Safa Jabrini, three doctor of pharmacy majors at Birzeit University, claimed the second spot in the university’s entrepreneurial initiative, which aims to support entrepreneurial projects that serve and benefit Palestinian society.
The team was awarded $25,000 to establish a startup to develop their application, “Pharmacists Everywhere,” which provides users with pharmaceutical services that facilitate access to proper, suitable medication. The application also offers services to review the user’s drug plan and provides consultations on medicine.
Tarazi studied at Birzeit College and continued her education at Beirut College for Women, where she earned an intermediate university degree before moving to France to study music. In 1952, she obtained a degree in psychology and Arabic language from the American University of Beirut. Mrs. Tarazi is a pianist, composer, and social activist. She led the band at Birzeit College and is a founding member of the Birzeit BoT.
Mrs. Tarazi contributed to the foundation of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music and has been its head from 1993 until today. She is also President of the Administrative Board of the General Union of Palestinian Women. Mrs. Tarazi has published eight volumes of music entitled Songs of Freedom and Hope.
Birzeit University’s graduate of Class 1997 Ola Awad is the president of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. She is a Ph.D holder in Business Administration from Liverpool University, an MA in Applied Statistics from Birzeit University, and an MBA from Boston University.
She was granted honorary doctorate in international cooperation from Alhayat Aljadeeda University. Moreover, she received an external auditor certificate for the EFQM, in addition to the distinguished performance figure from the Board of Directors of the Media International Union. Dr. Shakhshir joined PCBS in 2000 and was promoted to different positions until her appointment as President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics by presidential decree end 2010.
Birzeit University media graduate Zeina Sandouka was recognized as one of the Best Female Arab Reporter of 2016 by the Princess Bassma bint Talal Award. Sandouka is the reporter of the Jordanian Ro'ya TV in Palestine.
Sandouka won the award for her distinction in hosting the program "Halwa ya dunya" on Ro'ya TV. The program is a reflection to the Palestinian national identity, and sheds light on Palestine's culture, heritage and traditions.
Birzeit University graduate, Tamara Tamimi, and MA law student graduated with an honorary award from the SOAS University of London for the best thesis
Tamimi’s thesis focused on the legal implications of Israeli's violent practices against Palestinians, such as house demolitions, house evictions, revocation of residency and imposition of limitations on registration of newborns, based on the resources of international law, and the Charter of the United Nations.
Isid, a graduate from the Architectural Engineering Department, became the head of the Ramallah Right to Movement Group. Along with a number of dedicated runners, Isid developed her idea to have an informal jogging group to an international organization boasting running communities in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and abroad in London, New York, Denmark, Ghana and many other international communities.