A Syrian, Female Chemist’s Determination to Continue Her Academic Career in Germany

A Syrian, Female Chemist’s Determination to Continue Her Academic Career in Germany


Dr. Nabo, a Syrian chemist now living in Germany, embodies the spirit of the ‘modern woman’. With a PhD in analytical chemistry from Aleppo University, she has devoted her life to the world of academia – both as a professor and researcher. Deviating from the standard ‘get married, have children’ path most Syrian women are compelled to take, Dr. Nabo committed to her academic career, teaching in Damascus and Saudi Arabia, and researching in the laboratories of Aleppo.

However, the conflict in Syria forced Dr. Nabo to uproot her life and seek refuge in Germany – consequently disrupting her academic journey and placing various formidable obstacles in her way. With communication barriers and little-to-no contacts, the pursuit of continuing her academic career in Germany has proven to be considerably challenging. She exclaimed, ‘people want to hire those with more experience in Deutschland – but I have no experience in Deutschland, all of my experience is in Syria’. How can she start to accrue the necessary experience if institutions are not willing to open their doors to her outside credentials and perspective?

Nevertheless, Dr. Nabo has persevered and remains positive, noting, ‘it just takes time – I will continue to make progress and by the end of the year I hope to be more fluent in German and to start engaging in research again’. This chemist, even with only being in Germany for a little over a year, immediately started her ardent quest for a University or institution to collaborate. Her degree and title makes her apt for a wide array of research interests in the field of chemistry – for example medical analysis, pharmaceuticals, and analysis of equipment, such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography. However, a facet of analytical chemistry that captures her interest is the importance of creating new materials for manufacturing, and then testing these materials for safety, environmental consciousness, efficiency, etc.

Fortunately, although Dr. Nabo currently faces numerous challenges, she sees hope and prospect for reengaging with research in her field. She furthermore perceives that Germany holds more opportunities, resources, and greater respect for her as a woman than in Syria. If the contacts, connections, and collaborations are made, fruitful outcomes are in sight. That is where she says Chance for Science can help – it provides her with optimism.

Some of her brightest and proudest memories are when she was teaching in Aleppo, simultaneously engaged in research. She reminisced about a time in which she was able to learn something every day. She recalled spending sometimes more than ten to thirteen hours in the laboratory, but made sure to quickly add, ‘I loved it! This was a great time for me before everything happened in Syria in 2011’.

Dr. Nabo cannot remain at home, idly sitting. She must be reengaged with the world of academia where she can consequently contribute to her field of expertise, chemistry, and to the progress of German society – from manufacturing, to pharmaceuticals, to medicine.



(Interview by Sedona Hoppe-Brosse)

Straddling the Worlds of Being Both a Political Scientist and Refugee in Germany

Straddling the Worlds of Being Both a Political Scientist and Refugee in Germany


Dr. Youhanna Najdi is an Iranian political scientist that has been living in Germany for nearly two years. Previously placed in various camps around the country, he now has settled into an apartment in Leipzig with his wife, who has a PhD in nanotechnology. Here in Saxony, this power couple is trying to put their intellectual capital and previous experience to use in the face of considerable challenges and obstacles.

Dr. Najdi started his academic career in a small town in northern Iran where he studied Electronic Engineering. Although politics was his passion, he expressed his sense of familial obligation to stay close to his mother, who was alone after his father had passed away. However, after completing his bachelors, he says, ‘I followed my heart and instead of sticking with electrical engineering, which would have provided for better income and job opportunities in Iran, I decided to move to Tehran and pursue a Masters in political science’. His passion derived from his interest in working as a journalist and his desire to be an ‘effective person in the political field and to increase people’s awareness about social problems and the political situation in Iran’.

Dr. Najdi straddles two worlds – placing him in a position by which he can intellectually analyze these worlds from both an academic and personal perspective. Due to language barriers, writing as a journalist in Germany is an ambitious dream he finds to be inaccessible in the near future. However, he is now diligently searching for an academic position in which he can pursue his post-doc research. He found the silver lining in the suffering he and his wife had to face in the camps and the circumstances of being political refugees. His unrelenting passion for the study of social sciences drove him to astutely observe, and consequently learn many things about the behavior of people thrust into difficult situations forced to adjust to a new culture. However, the conditions of the camp prevented him and his wife from being able to continue their academic pursuits – the lack of privacy and loud, unclean quarters caused sleep deprivation and severe psychological repercussions. Their only way to keep their minds active and to have access to academia was by going to the library from the hour it opened until it closed.

Now, after living in better conditions for the past 2 months, he has managed to nearly finish his research proposal, which seeks to investigate how various elements can positively or negatively affect the life satisfaction of immigrants and refugees living in Germany. He noted that elucidating which issues are most critical or influential to life satisfaction amongst immigrants and refugees holds great value to the German government, policymakers, and institutions. Dr. Najdi figures that one of the more durable solutions to addressing the conflict behind the two populations is to better inform each community about the other. Immigrants must be open and adaptable citizens; likewise, German institutions need to invest in projects such as the one he has proposed in order to be more aware, which allows for better policymaking and action that could mitigate the negative effects of life dissatisfaction. Due to his interesting position as an academic refugee, he can combine both aspects of his identity – his Middle Eastern origins alongside his understanding of the situation in Germany from a political, economic, and personal perspective puts him in a position to connect the two sides.               

Reengaging with the world of academia and research is integral to Dr. Najdi truly recreating a life for himself and his wife in Germany. Dr. Najdi beautifully expressed a shared human desire – to be ‘useful’ – as he stated, ‘I cannot stay at home. I must go out and use my education because I want to be a useful contribution to Germany, income is another element, what is most important is that I am useful’.



(Interview by Sedona Hoppe-Brosse)


Interview NPR

 Chance for Science on NPR:


Source: http://npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/02/09/513700808/while-others-saw-refugees-this-german-professor-saw-human-potential

Dr. Salehi on Youtube

Watch "The Logic of Quantum Mechanics" by Dr. Karim Salehi on Youtube:





You can find more interesting Videos by Dr. Salehi on his YouTube channel "Science for Everyone"!


Prof. Dr. Carmen Bachmann

Prof. Dr. Carmen Bachmann

Leipzig University
Chair of Business Administration / Taxation
Chance for Science gUG


Alongside her research in Corporate Finance, Prof. Dr. Carmen Bachmann aims to facilitate the networking of refugee and German academics irrespective of their field of expertise. Her initiative Chance for Science supports highly-qualified refugees to be recognized according to their academic background and assists them in exchanging their knowledge with local colleagues.

In 2017, the U.S. radio station NPR and the highly-ranked international journal SCIENCE acknowledge her engagement achievements. Currently, the Visitor Center of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle is preparing to showcase Chance for Science as part of the exhibition „How to make a difference” starting in autumn 2017.

As CEO of the Chance for Science gUG, she organizes in cooperation with Leipzig University and funded by the Freistaat Sachsen im Rahmen des Landesprogramms Integrative Maßnahmen events and workshops for refugees with an academic background.

Dr. Barbara Sheldon

Dr. Barbara Sheldon
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Philipp Schwartz Initiative


Barbara Sheldon is Head of Division for Strategic Planning at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and as such responsible for the development and implementation of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative for supporting threatened scholars. She has worked in the field of research management for nearly twenty years, fifteen of them at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in various positions. Her responsibilities have included the development of a program for implementing “Welcome Centres for internationally mobile researchers” at universities in Germany, creating a German network of Welcome Centres and linking it to a European network of similar institutions (EURAXESS), as well as a program for promoting “research alumni relations”. Previously she worked as a fundraiser for the German Academic Exchange Service and as personal assistant to the President of the University of Heidelberg. Barbara holds a doctoral degree in American Literature from the University of Erlangen, Germany.

Dr. M. Said Chmit

Dr. Said Chmit



Dr. Chmit achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and his Master’s degree in Pharmacognosy and Medicinal Botany from the Damascus University. In parallel, Dr. Chmit studied Medicine at the University of Aleppo. In 2015, he received his PhD in Pharmacology from the Lebanese University of Beirut. During his education and doctoral studies, he gained teaching as well as laboratory experience and published several journal articles.

Dr. Yalda Davoudpour

Dr. Yalda Davoudpour
Leipzig University


Dr. Davoudpour got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Textile Engineering, Textile Chemistry and Fiber Science in Iran. She received her PhD in the field of Natural Nanofibers for Polymer Composites from the Science University Malaysia in 2014. During her work as a research assistant, she published three book chapters and thirteen journal articles. At present, Dr. Davoudpour is working as a guest scientist at the Institute of Mineralogy, Crystallography and Material Science at Leipzig University.

Petra Köpping

Petra Köpping
State Minister for Gender Equality and Integration
Member of Saxonian Parliament


Petra Köpping was born on the 12th of June in 1958. After completing her grammar school education, she studied State Law and Jurisprudence. From 1989 to 1990 she served as the mayor of Großpösna. Thereafter, she worked for four years for a health insurance company. In 1994, she was re-elected as the mayor of Großpösna and in 2001, Mrs. Köpping as the District Administrator of the Landkreis Leipzig. She maintained this position till 2008, after which she worked as a consultant for the Sächsische Aufbaubank. In 2009, she was elected for the first time to serve as a member of the State Parliament, and was re-elected in 2014. In the same year, she became State Minister for Gender Equality and Integration at the Saxony State Ministry for Social Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Dr. Nedal Said

Dr. Nedal Said
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ
Philipp Schwartz Scholar


Dr. Said studied Biology at the University of Aleppo (Syria) as well as at the Vladimir State University (Russia). After his Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering he received his doctorate on the topic “To deterministic mine epidemiological risk to drinking water”. Dr. Said is currently working at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ in the Department of Isotope Biochemistry. His project in the field of Microscopic Environmental Microbiology focusses on “Establishment of workflows for the preparation of microbiological samples for correlative electron microscopy and SIMS at cryogenic temperatures”.

Dr. Ahmad Atieh

Dr. Ahmad Atieh


Dr. Atieh completed his Bachelor’s as well as his Diploma degree in Architecture at the University of Aleppo, Syria. After receiving his Master’s degree at the Cairo University in Egypt, he earned in 2007 his doctorate in the field of Buildings Energy Efficiency using the Building Energy Simulation Programs (BESPs). Thereafter, he worked as an academic lecturer for Architectural Design and Environmental Control at the Tishreen University. From 2010 to 2012, he was Head of the Architecture Department at the Al-Jazeera University in Deir ez-Zor, and in 2013, he was promoted to the position of an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Naela Nabo

Dr. Naela Nabo


Dr. Nabo received her Bachelor in Chemistry and her Master in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Aleppo, Syria. In her Master’s thesis, she focused on the quantitative determination of water-soluble vitamins in artificial and natural materials by using fluid chromatography. She continued this research in her doctoral studies and received her doctorate from the University of Aleppo in 2011. As a lecturer, she shared her expertise in Chemistry, Biochemistry, General Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry at universities in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. 


Wie kann man in heißen Klimazonen energieeffizient bauen? Wie lassen sich hier Solarsysteme einbinden?
How can you build energy-efficient houses in dry climate zones? How to achieve this by integrating solar panels?  


Talk to Dr. Ahmad Atieh to get your answer.


Wie verändert sich die medizinisch eingesetzte traubenförmige Schwarzwurz in syrischen Baumschulen? Welche biotechnologischen Methoden werden in der Agrarwissenschaft angewandt?
Which biotechnological methods are applied in agricultural sciences? Understand the importance of genetic variance in grape rootstock!


Talk to Dr. Waeil Abdul Hamid Al-Youssef to get your answer.  

umweltfreundliche Verpackungen

Liegt in Zellwänden von Pflanzen der Schlüssel zur umweltfreundlichen Verpackung von Lebensmitteln und Getränken?
How can the cell walls of plants transform environmental-friendly packaging of food and beverages?


Talk to Dr. Yalda Davoudpour to get your answer.

Philosophie Physik

Wie lassen sich Physik und Philosophie verbinden?
How can opposing ideas of a physicist and a philosopher be united?


Talk to Dr. Karim Salehi to get your answer.

Wiederaufbau Aleppo

Wie lässt sich der Wiederaufbau von Aleppo unter dem Aspekt der sozialen Stadtplanung umsetzen?
How can social aspects in urban planning positively influence the rebuilding of Aleppo?


Talk to Dr. Fatina Kourdi to get your answer.


Wie lassen sich Lorbeeren für medizinische Zwecke einsetzen?
How can laurels be used for medical purposes?


Talk to Dr. Mohammad Said Chmit to get your answer.

Koronare Herzkrankheit

Mit welchen Maßnahmen kann man koronaren Herzkrankheiten im Alter selbst vorbeugen?
Which precautionary measures for elderly prevent coronary heart disease?  


 Talk to Dr. Hatem Al Khayyal to get your answer.

Siedlungsweisen Säugetiere

Welchen Einfluss haben unterschiedliche Siedlungsweisen auf die Verteilung großer Säugetiere in kamerunischen Nationalparks? Und wie lassen sich die Erkenntnisse auf Wölfe in Brandenburg übertragen?
How do habitat heterogeneity affect the distribution of large mammals in Cameroonian national parks? Find out how this can be linked to wolves in Brandenburg?


Talk to Dr. Mercy Nambu Diangha to get your answer.

Analytische Chemie

Welche Möglichkeiten bieten veränderte Verfahrensweisen zu Inhaltsstoffen in der analytischen Chemie?
Which techniques are applied to determine substances in natural and artificial materials?


 Talk to Dr. Naela Nabo to get your answer.

Dr. Hatem Al Khayyal

Dr. Hatem Al Khayyal


Dr. Al Khayyal achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at Tishreen University (Syria) and his Diploma in Pedagogical Qualification at Al Baath University (Syria). Afterwards, he studied at the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and received his Master's and Doctor’s degree in Health Science and Nursing in the field of Geriatrics at the Alexandria University (Egypt). He published in the Journal of Education and Practice on the topics of coronary heart disease and the effect of a discharge plan on the functional abilities of geriatric patients with a hip fracture.

Chance for Science gUG

Chance for Science is an initiative of Prof. Dr. Carmen Bachmann (Chair of Business Administration / Taxation, Leipzig University). By exchanging knowledge with German colleagues, refugee academics gain the opportunity to apply and maintain their scientific expertise.

The website www.chance-for-science.de facilitates establishing contacts between refugee students, academics and scientists to local colleagues. Currently, the network has about 700 members.

As a result of the considerable demand from German and refugee academics, the initiative was organized in the non-profit legal entity Chance for Science gUG (CEO: Prof. Dr. Carmen Bachmann).

The cooperation with the Leipzig University and the funding by the Freistaat Sachsen im Rahmen des Landesprogramms Integrative Maßnahmen currently allows organizing networking events and workshops to facilitate academic refugees' access to the German scientific community.



"Diversity is the engine of invention. It creates creativity that enriches the world." – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada


Highly-qualified refugees, an extensive human capital for Germany – maybe also for your company?


Albert Einstein
"Progress is invigorated by exchange of knowledge." – Albert Einstein


Do you want to expand your research group? Are you looking for inspiration to start a new research project? Benefit from refugee colleagues’ experiences and get an understanding about foreign academic environments.

Refugee Academics

Show your expertise to a broad audience!


At the conference you can present past research, highlight your scientific training and provide insight into your academic background!

Dr. Amir Gharibeshghi

Dr. Amir Gharibeshghi

Humboldt-Universität of Berlin


Dr. Gharibeshghi got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Agronomy and Plant Breeding in Iran. He received his PhD in the field of Plant Breeding. In his PhD, he worked on root systems and water stress. Since 2000, he worked as a research scientist in the field of Crop Science in the Seed and Plant Improvement Institute of the Agricultural Research Education and Extension Organization in Iran. He worked within national and international projects on oilseeds breeding and agronomic as well as on abiotic stresses (drought and cold). His publication list includes several books, handbooks and numerous articles. Since 2016, Dr. Gharibeshghi is working as a visiting scientist at the Division of Urban Plant Ecophysiology in the Humboldt-University of Berlin.

Dr. Fatina Kourdi

Dr. Fatina Kourdi
Technische Universität Dresden 


Dr. Kourdi received her Bachelor in Architecture and her Diploma in the History of Arab Sciences from the University of Aleppo, Syria. In 1989, she achieved her doctoral degree in Town Planning - Urban Design from the Technische Universität Dresden. Dr. Kourdi was the Director of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Aleppo and several other private universities. Dr. Kourdi focusses her research and practical work on strategies to redevelop historical buildings and urban areas.

Read more (in German):


Dr. Mercy Nambu Diangha

Dr. Mercy Nambu Diangha


Dr. Diangha studied Biological Sciences at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria (Nigeria) and received her Master in Forest Science at the Technische Universität Dresden. In 2015, she achieved her doctorate in Environmental Science from the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus–Senftenberg. Until recently, she volunteered for the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland and remains a member. Her research focusses on Eco-Evolution, Biodivesity Conservation, Ecosystem Services and Valuation, Landscape Ecology and Social Ecology.

Dr. Waeil Abdul Hamid Al-Youssef

Dr. Waeil Abdul Hamid Al-Youssef


Dr. Al-Youssef received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Agricultural and Forest Science with specialization in Agronomy from The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow. In 2009, the N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (VIR) in St. Petersburg granted him his Ph.D. in Genetics and Biotechnology. Dr. Al-Youssef worked as a scientist and Head of the Biotechnology Division at the „General Commission for Scientific Agricultural Research“ (GCSAR) in Damascus. In addition to articles in scientific journals, he published the book „Spring Bread Wheat Landraces of Asia and Africa from the collection of VIR“ in 2016.

Dr. Karim Salehi



Dr. Salehi achieved his PhD at the Moscow State University in Russia, and he was engaged as a lecturer and researcher at various universities in the Kurdish areas in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. His research areas focuses on the String Theory, Brane Interaction and the Philosophy of Physics.


Further information on Dr. Salehis book „Quantum Mechanics by Maple“:

Dr. Mahmod Muhsen

Dr. Mahmod Muhsen

 Leipzig University


Dr. Muhsen obtained his Bachelor‘s, post-graduate Diploma and Master‘s degree in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Syria. He completed his PhD (in 2012) in the field of Virology and Infectious Diseases at the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University (NVLU) Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Muhsen continued as a post-doctoral researcher focusing on the interactions between virus (HIV) and human immune cells in the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in Tokyo. During his education, he published several peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Muhsen is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig University.

Sedona Hoppe-Brosse

Sedona Hoppe-Brosse

University of Virginia 


Sedona Hoppe-Brosse is a student receiving a Bachelor‘s degree in Global Public Health with a minor in History from the University of Virginia. She recently spent a semester abroad in Amman, Jordan where she studied Refugee Health and Humanitarian Action. Amid her time abroad, she came across Prof. Dr. Bachmann and the organization, Chance for Science. She volunteered a month with the organization at the Leipzig University where she assisted in writing assignments, English translations of documents and articles and conducted interviews of two academic refugees: Dr. Naela Nabo and Dr. Youhanna Najdi. She now continues to work with the organization remotely back in the United States.

Dr. Ekrem Düzen

Dr. Ekrem Düzen

Bielefeld University


Dr. Düzen is researcher at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, Bielefeld University. He earned his doctoral degree in Applied Psychology at the Ankara University in 2006. From the beginning of his graduate studies, he engaged heavily in developing child and adolescent development programs and creating training materials targeting parents, trainers, administrators and policy makers. Dr. Düzen is the principal investigator of various large-scale field studies to assess challenges in youth inclusion, civic participation and social mobility.

Ralf Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick

Sporting Director RB Leipzig


Ralf Rangnick, German soccer manager and trainer, is the sporting director of the Bundesliga club RB Leipzig since 2012. He guided the team from the Regionalliga Nordost to the 1. Fussball-Bundesliga. After being an active player, he coached several professional German soccer teams. In 1983, he achieved the DFB-Fußball-Lehrer-Lizenz (soccer teacher license) at the top of his class. Up to now, Ralf Rangnick's greatest success was winning the DFB-Pokal and reaching the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League as the coach of FC Schalke 04 in 2011. Twice, he was honored as Coach of the Year in Germany (2004, 2008) and in 2017, he was named best soccer manager in the world.


Look forward to a panel discussion with Ralf Rangnick on the added value of diversity! 

Dr. Salam Said

Dr. Salam Said



Dr. Said holds a PhD in International Economic Relations from the University of Bremen. Since 2009, she has lectured and researched on Arab economies, Arab regional economic integration, political economy of the Middle East and socioeconomic development in Syria at various German universities and other academic institutions. Currently, she works as Scientific Coordinator and adviser for the project “For Socially Just Development – Economic Policies for Social Justice in the MENA Region”, based in Tunis and funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. She has published several articles and book contributions on socioeconomic development and political economy of Syria, socially just economic policies in the Arab region and on the importance of the higher education for refugees.


How can we produce more resistant plants to drought condition to have more products with less water usage ? How can we use genetically methods to face with water limitation in agriculture in future water crises?
How can we produce more resistant plants to drought condition to have more products with less water usage ? How can we use genetically methods to face with water limitation in agriculture in future water crises?


Talk to Dr. Amir Gharibeshghi to get your answer.

Prof. Asoc. Dr. Gazmend Nure

Dr. Gazmend Nure


Prof. Asoc. Dr. Nure studied Business Administration at the Ismail Qemali University (Albania) and subsequently received his MBA degree in Management. After his doctorate at the Buqesor University, he transitioned to the University of Tirana. In addition, he gained practical experience among others at Procredit Bank and at the Ministry of Transport in Tirana (2008-2016).

Dr. Suhaib Shekfeh

Dr. Suhaib Shekfeh


Dr. Suhaib Shekfeh received his degree in pharmacy from the Damascus University. Later, he worked in different research projects at the University of Jordan, Amman. He moved to Germany in 2008 to enhance his knowledge about the structure-based drug discovery methods. He obtained his Ph.D. from Martin-Luther-University Halle in 2015. Recently, he was working in a collaboration project between Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany) and Gazi University (Ankara, Turkey).

Enzyme Inhibitors

Dr. Shekfeh
How can we integrate the accumulating knowledge from structural biology and the proteins’ X-ray crystallography with computationally-enhanced bioinformatics and cheminformatics algorithms to accelerate the process of developing novel enzyme inhibitors and make efficient drug discovery projects?


 Talk to Dr. Suhaib Shekfeh to get your answer.