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Former and Current Grantees Shed Light on Being a Scientist in Morocco

Published: 2019-05-28

During 2019, our blog posts will primarily feature a range of countries in which IFS has awarded grants to early-career scientists, drawing on responses to a 15-item survey with mostly open-ended questions that we are sending to former and present grantees in selected countries, as an element of this year’s process culminating in our new 2021-2030 strategy. This month we highlight Morocco, where 181 people (29 to women and 152 to men) have been awarded grants by IFS since it was founded in 1974. Of the 181 grantees, 67 went on to receive a second grant, and 20 a third grant. As one survey respondent noted, “Many sectors in Morocco have been developed because of related scientific research results and advances”.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

Of the 114 invitations sent to colleagues in Morocco, 23 (or 20%) responded to the survey. Among them, 6% have master's degrees, 33% have doctorates and 61% have done post-doctoral work, with 95% of respondents living and working in Morocco. They are professors and teachers of various ranks, PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, research coordinators and directors. Their research areas involve organic chemistry, soil conservation, neurosciences, parasitology, crop breeding and food safety, among others. Of the many examples given of how their research has been put into use, of note are the elimination of schistosomiasis in Morocco, the release and registration of the first Moroccan rapeseed variety, and the determination of lactulose in milk. Sixty-eight percent of respondents have published more than ten peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters or books, nine colleagues are members of professional scientific organizations, and 12 have received awards for their work, both in Morocco and in other countries.

In response to a question about exciting or rewarding professional experiences, were examples of teaching and mentoring younger scientists, getting published in a peer-reviewed journal, being invited to an editor of an international journal, and being able to travel for research and professional purposes. This last experience was cited by several respondents as an important factor contributing to career development, along with working as a consultant, support from international organizations, and personal motivation, commitment, perseverance and patience. Examples of career challenges faced by respondents including funding, linking research findings to the real world, and scientific isolation. In terms of what would be most helpful to them in achieving their career goals, women respondents mentioned having the same opportunities as men, being able to interact with other women scientists, and having access to more funding. When asked what they need to change so that women can play a more significant role in science and research, men respondents highlighted factors such as research funding, training and networking that directly targets women scientists, more participation in scientific commissions and meetings, and improving the education of girls.

Common suggestions for links can be strengthened among scientists, research institutions, grants-making organizations and funding sources including supporting scientists in capacity-building and participating in workshops and conferences, funding research teams, collaborations and networks, and encouraging co-supervised graduate research. Finally, with regards to perceptions of the role of science in national development, it was seen as essential, though in the words of one respondent, "Scientific research is marginalized in our country and is not included in the strategies and decisions made by the government". Another colleague noted in contrast that, "Many sectors in Morocco have been developed because of related scientific research results and advances".

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae



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