What or who helped you shape the woman you are today?
My Father is my role model, he has always been behind every achievement I make.
Since I was a child, I like to be challenged, I have participated in a variety of activities, one of them was a program that used to be presented in Tele-Liban, the Big challenge, in which I ended up in second place among Lebanon. Furthermore, my father is a math Professor, who raised us to be unique, to make a change and leave our own fingerprint in everything we do.
He is both, my role model and my mentor. The challenges that I encountered in my personal and professional life, made me who I am today. I don’t like to lose; I love to be challenged and I will make it happen.
What were the challenges you have faced, and how did you deal with them?
The challenges started since I joined the engineering school at the Lebanese university, many family members opposed the idea of a girl in engineering, but my father was there to support and to guide me to pursue whatever I want. At College, we were only 2 girls out of 20 students in the class, so maintaining a high ranking in the class was difficult, but I was first in my class for several semesters.
When I first started my career, I faced lots of challenges, including being a woman in male-dominated field, working abroad, and having no one to support me and rely on. I had to do it all by myself, to work, to learn, to develop myself, to be a role model for my peers, to inspire and to empower other women.
Being a research scientist in the field of Nanotechnology for photovoltaic applications, was a major challenge, using large machines such as pulsed laser deposition, Scanning electron microscopes and Transport Electron Microscopes were difficult and very risky, so safety precautions were necessary. Finally, I was able to file a patent, granted in USA, UK and Europe.
Being the first Dean of Scientific Research at the University for the 2 campuses (male and Female) was another significant challenge regarding introducing a culture of research and the resistance of people to change as well as dealing with women. I had to work hard and in a very professional way to establish a research environment and contribute to the university’s transition from a teaching-based to a teaching-and-research-based model.
You have extensive experience in a variety of fields; where do you find yourself the most?
As a research scientist, this is where I find myself, where I feel I can play with materials to give new results, to make a difference in the scientific community, to discover new findings and transfer them to the industry through technology transfer.
Through applied research and technology transfer, I can contribute to improve the economy and serve the community, specifically when it is industry driven.
What is the importance of your eco-green Solar Cell project?
This project has been patented in USA, UK and Europe.
It is about using nanotechnology, and Eco green material at low manufacturing cost, while increasing the efficiency of the fabricated Solar Cell.
The Idea is to convert all Glass windows into Solar cells, and also Flexible materials such as paper, plastic, and others also into solar cell.
Where do you see the future of women in the Arab region, years from now?
I believe it is very promising, especially that we have new role models to inspire the new generations.
Which advice would you give to all the women in the middle east, pursuing their dreams?
Women can lead and make a significant difference. To achieve this, they just need to believe in themselves, set their goals, draw a roadmap to achieve them, and overcome all the challenges.
Be unique and different, don’t copy the others, leave your own fingerprint in everything you do. The sky is the limit.
Tell us more about your experience in the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace.
From a community service perspective, I am a member of different international associations of which senior member of IEEE, MRS, ECS, ACS, SPIE, IET, AUTM, AASBC, and AAAS member. Furthermore, I am the Vice president for scientific and academic affairs of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, as well as the president’s advisor regarding the General Assembly for Tolerance and Peace. I have been with the council since its establishment, where I contributed to the development of the master of Arts Program in Tolerance studies and Global Peace, editing books such as “ Paths to a culture of Tolerance and Peace” and organizing many academic events promoting tolerance and Peace.
It is a wonderful experience in which I feel I am actually contributing and serving our society by promoting values of Tolerance and Peace through real activities and the most important one is the education.
Which piece of legislation would you introduce to support global sustainability?
I would love to introduce regulations regarding Science and Technology in support to global sustainability, focusing on applied and disruptive research that have an economic impact and can then be transferred to the industry. Research Driven by the community and the society, solving the world’s real problems, with applicable solutions will open the floor for entrepreneurs to transfer those ideas to the industry by opening new startups and spinoffs, allowing them to contribute to the economy and serve the community.
I believe that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are catalysts for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
What’s next for Dr. Basma ELZein?
I want to contribute at the international level, perhaps through the UN or UNESCO, I working on my research so that in the hopes of one day receiving a Nobel Prize.