‘We are AGYA!’ Meet our excellent researches.

During the last few weeks we introduced five AGYA members to share their experiences with the Arab-German Young Academy of Science and Humanities (AGYA). Each one of them highlighted the benefits of the AGYA community: outstanding researchers of different disciplines, cultures and languages who collaborate in an inspiring and interdisciplinary research environment where they can realise ideas that differ from their regular research schedule. AGYA members get the chance to think outside the box and thereby grow professionally as well as personally. Computer Scientist and AGYA member Oliver Korn sums up: ‘AGYA is where innovative ideas meet and scientific achievements follow’.

Here, we briefly introduce you to the five members and their current AGYA research projects:

Christian Fron, German Ancient Historian @ University of Heidelberg

Christian Fron joined AGYA last year. Currently he is planning—together with his AGYA colleagues—an international and interdisciplinary conference on travel writing and storytelling, which is one of his major research topics. There, internationally renowned experts will present their research on processes of exchange across and around the Mediterranean. Our entangled common heritage evolves from these processes. Christian Fron says: ‘The AGYA spirit connects. We are all in similar career stages and everyone is open and willing to discuss new topics, methodologies or innovative project ideas’. Read the whole interview with Christian Fron.

Salma Balazadeh, German Biologist @ Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) in Potsdam

Being a Max Planck Institute scientist confirms Salma Balazadeh’s excellence as a scientist. As one of her research activities within AGYA, she organised an international workshop on 'Precision Engineering of the Genome—Ethical Perspectives in Societies with Islamic and Christian Heritage' in Hammamet, Tunisia. She is sure that, through AGYA, she has improved her research skills, particularly, in multidisciplinary research teams. After all, AGYA is a key platform for setting up and conducting interdisciplinary research—naturally, at an international level. She sums up how she benefits from AGYA: ‘Without AGYA´s support my visibility within the scientific community in Arab countries would not have reached the level it has reached now. I am extremely thankful to AGYA for its support in this respect!’ To get to know Salma Balazadeh, read the portrait.

Sarhan Dhouib, Tunisian Philosopher @ Kassel University

With his AGYA research project ‘Voices of a new enlightenment’ Sarhan Dhouib aims to stimulate the philosophical dialogue between the Arab world and Germany. Two anthologies—one in German, one in Arabic—will be published. They enable knowledge exchange in the field of philosophy between the Arab world and Germany and might inspire intellectual exchange beyond academia. Sarhan Dhouib concludes his aspirations and high ambitions as a researcher: ‘My fellow members and friends within AGYA encourage me to achieve the best I can. We continuously challenge each other on the highest intellectual level and support one another.’ Read the complete interview with him.

Oliver Korn, German Computer Scientist @ Offenburg University

One application area of social robots is the support of elderly people who might need assistance. The demand for professional caregivers exceeds the supply, so social robots are taken into account to fill the gap. Under which conditions can they become companions? What are the ethical issues that might arise? What are the challenges in different societies? AGYA member Oliver Korn, Professor for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at Offenburg University, explores these questions together with his AGYA colleagues in his current research project. He points out: ‘Being a member of AGYA helps me to look beyond algorithms and consider the cultural and social contexts in which the solutions are used.’ To learn more about AGYA member Oliver Korn and his comparative study on the acceptance of social robots in the Arab world and Germany, read more here

Henda Mahmoudi, Tunisian Biotechnologist @ the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai

Henda Mahmoudi has been a member of AGYA since it was founded in 2013. Within the academy, she has conducted several research projects in education, food security and ethics of biotechnology. Also, as a member of AGYA’s steering committee, she actively shapes the research academy, its activities and future. She initiated and conducted numerous research projects within AGYA. With her colleague Salma Balazadeh, for example, she set up a scientific exchange program. Its aim is to foster collaboration between Arab countries and Germany in the area of crop genomics. Looking back on almost five years of membership Henda Mahmoudi knows: ‘Being member of AGYA means being part of a vibrant research community, where innovative ideas meet and new potentials are unleashed.’ Find out more about Henda Mahmoudi here.

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