Gihan Kamel - 2017 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Infrared Beamline Scientist
SESAME (Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East), Jordan
Country of Birth: Egypt
As a child, my parents provided books and instructional tools and my female teachers shaped my views and talents. Later on, the idea that science and engineering were meant only for men became my strongest motivation. I wanted to compete, to prove that not only me, but all Arab women, could gain the same level of experience, excellence, and societal appreciation.
I perform experiments and assist researchers from all over the world with Infrared Microspectroscopy technique that covers a wide range of applications such as biomedicine, environment, marine and plant biology, materials science, archaeology, cultural heritage, and art restoration.
The biggest challenge we face as women is inequality—the idea that women are not good scientists. I work hard, take more challenges, and spread the word so that my female students and collaborators can do the same in their own scientific fields and societies. I wish that someone had told me sooner in my career how important it is to ignore fear and negativity, and to be super self-confident.
I would urge young women interested in STEM to explore as many horizons as possible and to break the rules that society puts on women. Trust themselves and accept challenges. Do not underestimate others and overestimate themselves. To deepen their roots before attempting to fly. To believe that they CAN.