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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Pakistani scholars abroad making their mark on the World

Scholars hailing from Pakistan that have gone abroad to make strides in all kinds of fields renew hope for the country, and highlight the potential of Pakistani students if nurtured correctly.

The recognition of Pakistani Scholars and Academics abroad plays an integral role in advancing and promoting the country’s educational and innovative agenda beyond borders.

It reveals the truth about the education system at home and unveils the capability and potential many Pakistanis possess, releasing a far more optimistic picture than that painted by Islamophobic tendencies post 9/11 and beyond the parameters of colonisation. Many such scholars are dispersed over (predominantly) UK and US universities and continue to encourage knowledge and intellect both abroad and at home.

Pakistani Scholars studying in the UK

Pakistani theoretical physicist, Mohammad Abdus Salam was the first Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize in science (for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory), and the second from an Islamic country to receive any Nobel Prize at all. Salam served as a professor at St John’s College, Cambridge in1954 and was invited to chair at Imperial College, London.

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Salam is celebrated as founder and scientific father of mathematical and theoretical physics in Pakistan during his term as the chief scientific advisor to the president. As Science Advisor, he played an important role in Pakistan’s development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, inter alia.

British – Pakistani Biochemist, Professor Muhammad Akhtar is emeritus professor at the University Of Southampton, UK. Prior to his role at Southampton, he was the Director General of the School of Biological Sciences, at the University of the Punjab, Pakistan. Akhtar dedicated several years (1859- 1863) to science research at Cambridge, Massachusetts before moving to the UK as a professor of BioChemistry.

He remained the head of his department from the years 1978 to 1991 and was a founding fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences in 1984 as well as the director of the SERC Centre for Molecular Recognition from 1990 till 1994. Akhtar obtained his Bachelors and subsequent Masters from the University Of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan, followed by a PHd at Imperial College London, UK.

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Akhtar has chaired the School of Biochemical and Physiological Sciences (1983 to 1987), as well as the Institute of Biomolecular Sciences (1989 to 1991). He is an honorary fellow at University College London and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980.

Pakistani Scholars in US Universities

Former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland, Mr Akbar Ahmed served as the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) at the University of Cambridge whilst simultaneously holding teaching positions at Harvard, Princeton, and the U.S. Naval Academy.

In addition, he is a professor of International Relations at the American University, Washington (School Of International Service). In 2017, he achieved the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award at the university. An anthropologist and scholar of Islam, he received his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Read more: Pakistani teacher wins world’s “Most dedicated teacher award”

Ahmed is celebrated as “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. He was the first Pakistani to serve on the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

Pakistani – American physicist, Mr Irfan Siddiqui currently works as a physics professor at the University Of California, Berkeley and also operates as a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was born in Rawalpindi, but soon moved to New York City at an early age.

He secured a Bachelors at Harvard University, USA, following which he enrolled at Yale for doctoral and subsequently, post doctoral studies. Siddiqui’s research focuses on quantum electrodynamics. He was one of the five faculty recipients of the “2016 Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award”, which is the University of California, Berkeley’s most prestigious honor for teaching.

Originally from Rawalpindi, Mr Adil Najam is a Pakistani scholar, academic and intellectual who has served as the vice-chancellor of LUMS. Currently, he operates as the inaugural dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, USA. He has also taught at the Fletcher School Of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts as an assistant professor.

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Najam has studied civil engineering at UET, Lahore, proceeding which he obtained two masters as well as a PHd from the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology in the field of international environmental policy. He was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2008 by the President, and appointed to the Committee for Developmental Policy by the UN Secretary General, the following year.

Najam was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2017, for his contributions in science, climate change and sustainable development.

Pakistani – American historian, Miss Ayesha Jalal serves as a Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University, Massachusetts, and is also a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship or Genius Grant of 1998. Originally from Lahore, Ms Jalal studied at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and received her doctorate from Trinity University, Cambridge in 1983.

Two years later, she moved to Washington to join the Woodrow Wilson Center as a fellow and later, as Academy Scholar at Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies. Ms Jalal has taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Tufts University, Columbia University, Harvard University and Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan.

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In addition, she has served as fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1980 to 1984), Leverhulme Fellow at the Center of South Asian Studies, Cambridge (1984 to 1987), Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC (1985 to 1986) and Academy Scholar at Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies (1988 to 1990). She is amongst the most prominent American academics/scholars to write on the history of South Asia.

Known for her role in the first observation of gravitational waves, Pakistani born astrophysicist, Nergis Mavalvala has just recently been made the Dean at MIT School of Science, where she is also a professor of Astrophysics. Previously, she was the Associate Head at MIT’s Department of Physics and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship/Genius Grant in 2010.

Originally from Lahore but raised in Karachi, Mavalvala attended the Convent of Jesus and Mary where she completed her O and A Levels. She moved to the USA in 1986 where she obtained a bachelors in physics and astronomy at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Prior to graduation, Mavalvala co-authored a paper in ‘Physical Review B: Condensed Matter’ with her physics professor, whom she also helped set up a lab.

Read more: Pakistani astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala named dean at prestigious MIT University

Mavalvala acquired a PHd from MIT in the year 1997 and developed a prototype laser interferometer for detecting gravitational waves. She was also a research scientist at the California Institute Of Technology where she started her work in the cosmic microwave background. Among many awards through the course of her career, Ms Mavalvala won the first Lahore Technology Award launched by Information Technology University in 2017.

Asad Abidi is a Pakistani – American scholar and electrical engineer, currently serving as professor at the University Of California, Los Angeles. Abidi was born and raised in Pakistan, where he obtained his Matriculation at Cadet College Hassan Abdal.

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He then moved to the Uk, where he completed high school from Dudley College of Technology, UK. Abidi acquired a bachelors from Imperial College London, followed by a masters and subsequent PHd from the University Of California, Berkeley in 1981. He is also a prominent member of the United States National Academy Of Engineering.

GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources