October 26, 2020
How are decision-making and creativity reflected in the brain? What interactions are there? These are the neurobiological questions Radwa Khalil is dealing with. The neuroscientist is a doctoral student at Jacobs University. For her outstanding academic achievements and social commitment, she has now been awarded the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) prize for international students and doctoral candidates.
"This award means a lot to me. I am very pleased about this recognition and appreciation of my achievements in my academic journey," says Radwa Khalil. She was already one of the best in her bachelor's studies. After receiving her degree in Zoology from the University of Alexandria in Egypt, she was offered the opportunity to work as a teacher at her university. However, Radwa had other plans: She wanted to do a master's degree in Neuroscience and Brain Research – a subject that was only taught in Egypt to a limited extent ten years ago. She therefore decided to continue her academic career abroad.
Her first station led her to the University of Bordeaux in France. Afterwards she attended the Otto-von-Guericke-University in Magdeburg, Germany, where she accomplished a master's degree in Integrative Neuroscience. Radwa then moved to the US for a one-year stay at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Since September 2017, she has been doing her doctorate in the field of cognitive neuroscience at Jacobs University. She is a member of the research group of brain researcher Professor Ben Godde. In her doctoral thesis, she focuses on the neurobiology of creativity, its measurability, its allocation in the brain and thus the question of its targeted promotion. "What makes me curious and motivated is the examination of research questions that influence our daily lives," says Radwa. She has published around 20 scientific papers to date, including a study sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
The ambitious young researcher qualified for the DAAD award not only because of her academic excellence but also because of her social commitment. For more than two years, Radwa has continued to support Jacobs University students as a "Resident Associate" at Mercator College, one of the four accommodations for students on campus, with the small and big problems of everyday life. "I am happy when I can help others," she says.
Tolerance, respectful cooperation and the mutual acceptance of differences are values that Radwa wants to convey. "It is a very enriching experience when people from different cultures come together," Radwa emphasizes. She feels very much at home on the campus. She appreciates the freedom that life offers her, but also the lush green spaces as a place for recreation.
She wants to pass on her enthusiasm for academia. At Jacobs University, she teaches students in psychology and neuroscience. She is also involved in the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society, which promotes, among other things, the exchange of young researchers and provides them with access to well-established neuroscience labs that are not provided in their home countries. Radwa is particularly keen to support talented women in her country.
Radwa Khalil will have completed her doctoral thesis by the end of the year. She wants to continue her research on creativity, preferably in Bremen. Jacobs University Bremen and Germany have become her second home.
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.