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Professors at Work
Rami G. Khouri interviews AUB scholars about how their research findings clarify our world's mechanics and mysteries.
5 days ago
She leads genes, cells, and molecules into battle against rare childhood diseases
Tenured Professor of Pediatric Neurology and Neurogenetics Rose Mary Boustani has spent decades at AUB and Duke University tracking down the individual molecules, genes, and cells that cause rare childhood and adolescent diseases that had long been seen as incurable. She explains how she and her colleagues achieved several breakthroughs that have improved and prolonged the lives of many children, and patented several discoveries on the way. Her next frontier at AUM Medical Center is how we can best respond to autism, while also researching and testing new drugs.
Sep 5, 2021
Do Baghdad checkpoints clarify aspects of Arab identity and statehood?
Dr. Omar Sirri, affiliated scholar at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, recently received his PhD degree at the University of Toronto. He discusses his years of research on the symbolism, roles, and fate of security checkpoints across Baghdad since the 2003 invasion, and how they link to issues of identity, sectarianism and power in Iraq and the wider region.
Aug 29, 2021
Danger and abuse accompany Syrian refugee child laborers
Professor Rima Habib, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences, has spent decades studying the health and living conditions of low-income marginalized communities in Lebanon. Her latest research reveals the many dangers facing Syrian refugee working children aged 8-18, including injury, verbal and physical abuse, and even death. The insecurities that plague poor Syrian refugees also are common among Palestinian refugees and low-income Lebanese. They all require a coordinated policy response from multiple state and international agencies, with strict enforcement, which are often elusive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2WVKAZWqWs (See this short video by Rima Habib and her team that brings to life the Syrian refugee working children in Lebanon and their difficult conditions.)
Aug 22, 2021
Humbled, and always learning from the virus
Assistant Professor of Medicine Carine Sakr-Chaptini, Director of the AUB Expert Committee on COVID-19, explains how she and her colleagues are continuously humbled to keep learning about how the virus operates and how people react to measures to contain it. Science and data drive AUB’s policy response to protect its community and all Lebanon, but collaboration across sectors and medical personnel is also critical.
Aug 15, 2021
Here’s how universities learn to channel knowledge into quality public policies
Fadi El-Jardali, tenured Associate Professor of Health Policy and Systems in AUB’s Faculty of Health Sciences, founded and still leads the pioneering Knowledge To Policy (K2P) center at AUB, which identifies how scholars can channel their research knowledge to positively influence policy-making. This effort is all the more vital in emergency situations like today’s pandemic, as he explains, but also in routine efforts such as the drive to control tobacco use in society.
Aug 8, 2021
Reconsidering relations among Greeks, Arabs, science and philosophy
Dr George Saliba, Professor and Director of AUB’s Farouk Jabre Center for Arabic and Islamic Science and Philosophy, explains how his research identifies how Arab and Greek scholars and philosophers jointly articulated new knowledge that went on to spark the European Renaissance. His research also offers new ideas on why European powers rose and Arab-Islamic-Indian-Chinese and other societies declined after the discovery of the New World’s gold and silver.
Aug 1, 2021
Water pipes, diesel generators, electronic cigarettes, and other aerosols facts…
Professor Alan Shihadeh, dean of the Maroun Simaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, explains what he and his colleagues have learned in AUB’s Aerosols Research Lab over the last 20 years. From water pipe smoking to Beirut’s air after the port explosion and mass use of diesel generators, aerosols are often dangerous to our health, he notes. He also talks about how the knowledge they generate can help shape public policies in Lebanon and around the world.
Jul 25, 2021
Do religion and social sciences need a deeper dialog?
Sari Hanafi, AUB Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Islamic Studies program, is also the President of the International Sociological Association. In this episode he explains his journey from analyzing knowledge production in the Arab region to how scientific research can reach policy-makers, and to his current research on why a deep dialog is needed between religion and the social sciences.
Jul 18, 2021
Most Arab education standards are low, and stagnant. Here’s how to raise them.
Associate Professor of Education Rima Karami describes how her on-the-ground research in primary and secondary schools in Lebanon and other Arab countries identifies reasons for the education system’s weak performance – and how to work with students, teachers, and principals to raise standards and student learning outcomes.
Jul 11, 2021
Are better language metaphors a route to more effective science teaching?
Education Department Associate Professor and developmental psychologist Tamer Amin is analyzing common language metaphors and diagrams that science teachers use – but which some students may not fully comprehend. He explains how his study of language usage, simulations, and the learning process identify weak spots in science learning today, while also aiming to bring about more effective science teaching.
Jul 4, 2021
Making fish and animal food...from restaurant waste
Biology Professor Imad Saoud, a specialist in agriculture and aquatic science, is fermenting restaurant food waste and feeding 1000 fish in a pond at AUB's Beqaa Valley Agricultural Station. He and his colleagues are exploring the potential for producing animal feed at a fraction of commercial prices, mainly to feed fish, poultry, and cows for now. He explains his scientific journey and the potential of their research.
Jun 27, 2021
Time travel in gender and women studies
Prof Kathryn Maude explains how her Medieval women studies link with AUB's gender initiative that she co-directs.
Jun 20, 2021
Are cash grants to Syrian refugees effective social assistance?
An ongoing, year-long, analysis of the impacts of cash grants to Syrian refugees in Lebanon reveals some striking results, including that the grants reduce the risk of child labor and early marriage of women. If so, these benefits will impact successive generations, explains Economics Associate Professor Dr. Nisreen Salti.
Jun 13, 2021
Dr Ali Ahmad, who launched the Energy Policy and Security Program at AUB's Issam Fares Institute, explains why urgent economic, climate, water, nuclear power, and other challenges in the region demand credible policy responses.
Dr Ali Ahmad's research career at Cambridge, Princeton, AUB and Harvard Universities now sees him focus on the complex links among energy, nuclear power, security across the Middle East. As an AUB- Issam Fares Institute senior fellow and a research scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School, he explains the positive developments in these sectors as well as the hard decisions that must be made soon on energy subsidies, sustainability, environmental protection, and other critical issues. Water stress and the expected impacts of climate change add urgency to new inter-disciplinary efforts in nuclear power and energy resilience.
Jun 6, 2021
University expertise helps reconstruct and recover a city -- and citizens' dignity
The day after the August port explosion in Beirut, dozens of AUB faculty and students spontaneously visited the damaged region of Beirut to see how they could help the citizens in need to rebuild structures, lives, and entire communities. Khaddit Beirut was born as a platform that brings together multi-discipline expertise from AUB and other universities in housing, health care, small businesses, and education, to recover and reconstruct urban lives and communities. Chemistry professor Najat Saliba, co-founder and co-director of Khaddit Beirut, explains how they go about breaking entrenched networks of corruption and clientelism, to restore trust among citizens, experts, and even some honest officials.
May 30, 2021
What do we learn from the failure of last century's decolonization and non-aligned movements?
Assistant Professor of Sociology Anaheed Al-Hardan and colleagues in Ghana, South Africa and elsewhere in the South explore the theoretical, literary, and political dimensions of promising global solidarity movements in the 1950s and 60s that ultimately succumbed to imperial and capitalist powers and splits within the South.
May 23, 2021
Power, politics and policy in the Arab region's inefficient food systems
Food and Agricultural Sciences Professor Rami Zurayk, director of the Food Security Program, shares his findings on how food systems work or don't work efficiently in the Arab region, and where researchers can use their knowledge to identify inflection points in the public policies and power relations of Arab societies that can promote more family-scale productive farms. Vulnerable farmers who are forced to leave their farms and become unemployed urban poor are one major living sign of the distortions in prevailing Arab states' food systems and neglect of agriculture.
May 16, 2021
Why should an engineering major study philosophy or history?
Philosophy professor and AUB Director of General Education Bana Bashour explains why a General Education curriculum is mandatory and how it helps enrich students' skills and capacity to navigate an increasingly complex world. She reviews how the changes are being made and what results they might have.
May 9, 2021
Better health by changing government tobacco policy and individual behavior.
Faculty of Health Sciences tenured Associate Professor Rima Nakkash has headed the Tobacco Control Research Group and the AUB tobacco-free campus task force since their inception. She explains the challenges they've faced in working to influence government policies, in order to create regulations that in turn change social norms and individual behavior. Evidence-informed advocacy in partnerships with others in society has been key to some successes -- and lessons learned are now being applied to the fight against COVID-19.
May 2, 2021
Sa’dallah Wannous and the many dimensions of Arab theatre
We examine AUB English Professor Robert Myers and his colleague Sonja Mejcher-Atassi’s new book, The Theatre of Sa’dallah Wannous – A critical study of the Syrian playwright and public intellectual, which explores the life and work of the late Syrian dramatist and intellectual. Many of Wannous’ political, social, and intellectual concerns still reverberate widely across the Arab region, and remind us of the creative artist’s responsibility and impact in all sectors of life.
Apr 25, 2021
How health expertise crosses borders & disciplines
AUB Global Health Institute Founding Director Dr Shadi Saleh reviews how the institute works to bring together multiple disciplines on campus to improve people's health in the region and around the world, using technology, policy reviews, training, and innovation. When the institute provides a platform that brings together a computer scientist, public health physicians, nutritionist, and engineer, they create new systems and products that serve citizens, refugees, and many others in a way that none of them could do alone.
Apr 18, 2021
Can Arab civil society influence policy-making?
Dr. Nasser Yassin, Associate Professor of Policy and Planning at the Health Management & Policy Department at the American University of Beirut (AUB), led a research team of 40 scholars who analyzed 100 cases of civil society advocacy for policy changes in 10 Arab countries. He explains why most policy advocacy by NGOs and civil society groups fails, and what are the keys to success (hint: perseverance, research, and collaboration).
Apr 14, 2021
After Beirut port cataclysm, how urban planners engage shattered communities
Dr. Mona Fawaz, Professor in Urban Studies and Planning and the Coordinator of AUB's Graduate Programs in Urban Planning and Design, explains why AUB faculty and students immediately went to the port region immediately after the August explosion and how they engage with the devastated communities, giving life to their concept of an inclusive city that allows low- and medium-income citizens to take part in shaping their cities.
Apr 11, 2021
Understanding the climate, water, citizens & and governance dynamic
Dr Nadim Farajallah founded and has directed the Climate Change & Environment Program at AUB's Issam Fares Institute since 2008. He explains his research findings on how climate change will impact key sectors of life and economy in Lebanon, what concerns citizens most, and how local governance can play a critical role in minimizing future threats.
Apr 7, 2021
When water, energy, food, and health converge`
Dr. Rabi Mohtar, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. explains how 56 AUB research scientists in the university's biggest collaboration work together to understand and promote linkages among water, food, energy, and health systems for a sustainable Middle East.
Apr 4, 2021
Early marriage, health vulnerabilities, and refugee young girls
Sawsan Abdulrahim, explains the findings of a pilot research study on early marriage among Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon, which unexpectedly revealed significant mental health issues in the community. Conclusion: young girls must be seen as agents of positive change and not only as vulnerable and helpless beings.
Mar 31, 2021
Green Shaped Buildings
Dr. Aram Yeretzian researches innovative and environmentally friendly building and urban designs that save energy and reduce pollution.
Mar 28, 2021
Transformative life experiences through community work
AUB has pioneered several kinds of community development projects managed by students and faculty, focusing on sustainable and high-impact interventions in marginalized areas, including poor rural and urban communities and refugee camps and settlements. Dr Shibli explains how they have overcome communities' suspicion about such external interventions -- by identifying with the local community the work to be done, staying engaged for years, and implementing projects that improve people's lives.
Mar 24, 2021
Breaking the Logjam of Arab Political Elites
Political Science professor Carmen Geha has studied political power-sharing and women's representation across the Arab region, and weighs the entrenched power elite's vested interests against the socio-economic and political dignity demands that drive the ongoing Arab protests. "Women's empowerment" efforts have especially failed to increase women in public offices, which she believes requires political parties that champion this goal. This would succeed if we are to judge by the intense and deep role of women and girls in the protests across the region.
Mar 21, 2021
"Knowledge Is Power" -- Promoting dignified work for Arab women, and human rights for all
Dr. Charlotte Karam is a tenured Associate Professor at the Olayan School of Business (AUB), where she served as the Associate Dean of Programs and the Founding Director of the Center of Inclusive Business and Leadership for Women. She explains why she and her colleagues across disciplines at AUB have surveyed inclusive employment for women in 11 Arab countries, and what their KIP Index results reveal. She outlines why structural reforms are needed to promote dignified work for all, while we reclaim knowledge about our own societies and measure progress according to our indigenous benchmarks.
Mar 17, 2021
Mental health in unhealthy times
Brigitte Khoury, Associate Professor, explains how she and her colleagues research the impact on the public of stressful times in Lebanon, what every person can do to help themselves, and how AUB responds to the current crises. Dr. Khoury analyzes how Lebanon’s multiple crises impact individuals, families and institutions, and how individuals and families can help minimize the damage from such mental health stresses. She also explores how she and her AUB colleagues in the psychiatry department determine what research they conduct, and explains how their results help shape interventions among children and adults.
Mar 13, 2021
Why Arab Ruling Elites Survive Mass Protests
Rima Majed has collected data on 30 years of sectarian protests and street politics in Lebanon and Iraq primarily, and explains her assessments that most mass and even "revolutionary" protests have been unable to remove Arab regimes that remain in power by using sectarianism, clientelism, and coopting and repressing protesters. The lack of organized groups (unions, parties) and unified leaderships that could transform mass street protests into political change are among the reasons, she explains.
Mar 9, 2021
In the Eye of the Pandemic
How virologist Dr. Nada Melhem, from AUB's Faculty of Health Sciences, has been tackling the challenges of COVID-19 and whether she thinks we’ll have a vaccine soon to begin a return to normal life. Interview recorded in September 2020 before phase three trails of COVID-19 vaccines were started.
Mar 6, 2021
Redefining International Relations from the Global South
Dr. Karim Makdisi, Associate Professor of International Politics and director of the Graduate Program in Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, explains how scholars from the Global South increasingly engage their colleagues in the North and West to shape a new field of “Global IR”. He explains why the study of international relations should shed the traditions of western powers who seek their interests abroad, and also explore the views and interests of citizens, states, and non-state armed actors across the South who have long suffered the military interventions of global powers.
Mar 2, 2021
How To Recycle Building Waste
Civil engineer Issam Srour, PhD, interviewed about his research focus on recycling building materials to promote sustainable construction practices in Lebanon.
Feb 27, 2021
Harnessing the power of satellites to feed the Middle East
Dr Hadi Jaafar, Associate Professor of Irrigation Engineering and Water Management at AUB's Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, has developed innovative technologies -- including a free phone app -- that farmers and governments in the Middle East use to manage their water supplies and food production. Within hours of the Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020, he used satellite imagery to identify the extent and nature of the damage across Beirut and its suburbs, accelerating relief and rescue efforts.
Feb 20, 2021
How much has the Arab region moved to gender equality in recent decades?
Lina Abou-Habib, interim director of the Asfari Institute at AUB and a leading feminist activist in the Middle East, analyzes why feminist activism has made gains slowly since the Beijing conference 25 years ago, and how regional and global activists coordinate to reduce the subordination of women.
Feb 8, 2021
People-Centered Recovery After the Beirut Blast
Dr. Mona Fawaz, Professor in Urban Studies and Planning and Coordinator of AUB's Graduate Programs in Urban Planning and Design, explains how students and faculty with the Beirut Urban Lab took to the streets of Beirut two days after the blast of August 4th, talking with those affected. Their goal was to put people first, protect the heritage, and work toward recovery. Their work connected them with 48 different government agencies and the municipality, assessing the damage and connecting residents with their neighbors. The ongoing effort has brought to light underlying challenges to the health of Beirut's neighborhoods and possibilities not just for recovery, but for a better future.