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In profile: Dr Samina Mehnaz, Pakistan's first Humboldt Ambassador scientist

A part of Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), she's been researching new cures of cancer and tuberculosis

Updated Oct 02, 2019 01:15pm

Professor and chairperson of the School of Life Sciences at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), Dr Samina Mehnaz was born in Lahore with a dream to work for the field of medicine - cancer and tuberculosis in particular.

She discovered her passion for research while receiving higher education, and so signed up for a PhD at NIBGE (affiliated with Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad at the time) in 1995.

During her PhD, she was awarded the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Fellowship at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

Dr Samina is the first Humboldt Ambassador Scientist of Pakistan. She completed her first tenure (2016-18) in December 2018 and has recently been awarded with another tenure of three years (2019-21).

Her research is contributing to new and improved methods for not just safe and healthy farming but is also finding new avenues for the cure of cancer and tuberculosis.

Her journey started from isolating bacteria from rice; she became an international researcher soon after, starting in October 2000 at Ohio State University where she worked till June 2003 and published papers in the field of Immunology.

In 2010, she received the Georg Foster Fellowship (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany) to work on microbial metabolites and their antimicrobial activities at Bonn University in Germany.

After returning from Germany in 2012, she joined the Department of Biological Sciences (now School of Life Sciences) at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) as a professor and is currently chairperson of the department.

After joining FCCU, she continued her research and set up the biotechnology lab with the funds from HEC, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and FCCU which not only met international standards but impressed the very professors who had once asked her to stay back in the west because of the limited opportunities they thought she would have in her home country.

The biotechnology labs set up at FCCU have now opened avenues for Dr Samina and the students pursuing research in this field to collaborate on international projects with their peers.

Over 28 years of research in Pakistan, North America and Europe and more than 12 years of teaching experience has made her one of the pioneers of bio-research in Pakistan. She is the co-editor of 'Environmental Sustainability' (Springer Nature since 2017) and editor of 'Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection' (Taylor & Francis, UK since 2015).

She has recently been declared an 'outstanding editor' for 'Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection'. She has also been ranked among the top 1% reviewers among the global reviewer’s data base by Publons Academy USA based on the number of research articles reviewed by her during 2017-18.

As a researcher, Dr Samina has published many research papers in international journals which have been cited more than 2300 times. She is an Editor of two books titled 'Bioformulations: For Sustainable Agriculture' and 'Rhizotrophs: Plant Growth Promotion to Bioremediation'.

She has also authored six book chapters, published by Springer.

Dr Samina has reviewed more than 140 research articles for more than 45 international journals including Microbial Ecology (Springer), the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (SGM, UK), Frontiers in Microbiology, PLOS One, Microbial Cell Factory, BMC Microbiology and Canadian Journal of Microbiology.

Out of all the accolades and international recognition she has received, her favorite achievement is that her work has allowed her to help human kind and make Pakistan proud.

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