“Rather than looking out for answers in others, I wanted to find them myself, that was what drove me to science,” says Nur Khalil

Nur Khalil, technician at the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF.

Nur Khalil, technician at the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF.

When we are children we ask ourselves thousands of questions about who we are and what the world around us consist of. This spontaneous curiosity is what motivated the technician at the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, Nur Khalil, to be interested in the environment and all the problems derived from the bad practices of our society. The environment specialist has never given up, she has tried to find the answers to all her doubts without contemplating the option of abandoning the challenge. Therefore, she encourages her female colleagues and those girls with a scientific vocation to feed our dreams: “Let’s solve all the riddles that worry us, we are capable of doing what what we set out to do.”

Nur Khalil studied Environmental Science in Madrid and, since then, her professional career has focused on sustainability and waste management. The researcher believes that curiosity was what drove her to science, since “rather than looking out for answers in others, I wanted to find them myself.” Nur explains that her father used to brought home news clippings about science news. “I remember that I was always interested on climate change related news because I thought that I could contribute to stop it somehow,” she admits. As a result of this curiosity about the environment, he began to define her professional life.

 

The role of women in science

One of the first questions that the young environment specialist raised while studying at school was why there were so few women in science, believing that perhaps the problem was that they had not access to education. As time goes by, during her bachelor’s degree studies, she met the work of great scientists who had remained in oblivion for decades, overshadowed by the men around them.

Nur highlights the great role that Rosalind Franklin had in the discovery of the molecular structure of the DNA, even though the recognition was only addressed to her colleagues Watson, Crick and Wilkins. Another of her references is the biologist Lynn Margulis, substantial for her theories on the evolution of eukaryotic cells. He also admires Caroline Herschel whose eagerness to know the world led her to discover stars without having any formal education.

 

Towards a more equitative participation

Although “it seems that we are moving forward, that cases of inequality are more visible, they are perceived as more serious and thus generate a social alarm that does not exist before, injustices are a reality and deserve to be on the front page,” says Nur. Concerning her profession, the environment specialist considers that “women are not correctly represented in science. An example of this is the drastically low number of female professors compared to male professors in the sector, which is known as the ‘scissors effect’. This effect implies an important descens in the number of women in the upper echelons of science. This problem is not only observed in the field of science, but in a large number of professions.” The technician proposes that inequality could be resolved from multiple perspectives: “It could be address from education, wage equality and offering facilities to combine work with family life.”

For those restless girls who want to dedicate themselves to science, Nur is an example to follow for her insatiable curiosity and her express will. Looking back, the environment specialist would say to them: “Do not be afraid, trust yourself and get on with science (does not bite); thinking that you are capable of doing everything, you will be brave enough to do whatever you propose to do.”

 

Nur Khalil enjoys spending time outdoors and sharing walks with her pet.

Nur Khalil enjoys spending time outdoors and sharing walks with her pet.
 

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