Image: The SESAME Synchrotron in Jordan
The Swedish Institute is funding scholarships for training for researchers related to the SESAME synchrotron in Jordan to come to MAX IV for 3 – 6 months. The first researcher to be awarded a grant is now in Lund and well underway with her training. Saima Rasheed is an Assistant Professor at the University of Karachi in Pakistan and joined MAX IV on the 16th of November working with Uwe Müller at the BioMAX beamline. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please see our application page.
Here is an interview with Saima on her experience so far and her hopes for the future.
What made you apply?
I am from Pakistan and unfortunately, we have no state of the art synchrotron facility. Recently, in our region, SESAME synchrotron light source was officially opened in Jordan, to foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighbouring countries. One of the main purposes of SESAME is capacity building in the region and prevent or reverse the brain drain. From Pakistan, I am actively involved in the scientific activities of SESAME and get benefited from its training programmes. I completed my first post-doc from DESY, University of Hamburg, Germany in 2017 under the IAEA-SESAME Fellowship programme. In 2018, I was also selected for a SESAME training programme for young research administrators & managers. These extremely important experiences gave me new ideas and inspiration, and chance to get in touch with the synchrotron-based science.
In 2017, The Swedish Institute offered scholarships for training and exchange at MAX IV Laboratory in Sweden, for the researchers belonging to a SESAME member state. I searched about MAX IV and found that the MAX IV Laboratory is under commissioning and the scientific program has recently been started. So I decided to apply because I think that it would be a great opportunity and a launch pad for my career. By taking this opportunity, and by visiting this new hub of knowledge and science, I can gain knowledge from experienced scientists, as well as earlier stage PIs, whom I can work with directly to develop my career and interests. So, finally,* I am the first one from Pakistan selected to get training at the MAX IV.
What will you learn?
For me science is excitement, facing challenges, and I like challenges. For a few years, I have been completely hooked on the art of crystallography. I am working and keen to find out interactions of lead molecules/drugs with medicinally important protein by unlocking the structural interactions, applying X-ray crystallography.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have wonderful mentors and role models in life, Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary (ICCBS, Pakistan), Prof. Betzel (University of Hamburg, Germany), Dr. Uwe Muller, and Dr. Gustavo Lima, here at MAX IV. At MAX IV, we are working on “Fragment Screening” project, to find out how different lead molecules/drugs react with biological macromolecules, and help to rescue the altered function in much more targeted and specific way. This will certainly help us and the scientific community to design and explore safe and effective drugs against different diseases.
What will you do when you have finished at MAX IV?
I am really grateful to The Swedish Institute, MAX IV and SESAME for this fellowship because it is going to allow me to strongly enrich my future research and help me in my prospective career. I am mentoring three M.Phil. researchers at the PCMD, ICCBS, University of Karachi, and certainly this training will help me to connect these young researchers, who are just entering in the field of crystallography, to the leaders in the field.
I will hopefully help the young researchers in Pakistan and at SESAME to support each other scientifically, personally, and encourage them to do best in science, because we really need to train them, to accomplish and achieve their full potential of science and this is particularly the main goal of SESAME.
Science demands so much hard work, dedication and time. So by hard work, every person that is trying to discover and understand some smaller piece will be a component of this larger piece of the puzzle that is called science, and together we have huge ability to change the world.
*Advice to fellow applicants: My fellowship was started from 1st October 2018, and I was supposed to join MAX IV on this date, but because of delay in visa process and then getting NOC from my University, I joined on 16th November 2018, and this resulted in a loss of time. Out of 4 months fellowship period, I spent 1.5 months waiting for a visa and paperwork which left me with less time than I had hoped to complete my project.