Fierce Moroccan Females: Ismahane Elouafi, PhD

Fierce Moroccan Females: Ismahane Elouafi, PhD

The empowerment of girls and women has become one of the main focuses of my Peace Corps service so far, and because a myriad of Moroccan women have made great strides in the world as professionals, scientists, and athletes, I decided to create a recurring series all about them. Who run the world?

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi initially sparked my fascination because she has a PhD in Genetics from the University of Córdoba, and genetics was actually kind of my thing in college.

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My senior year, I worked in a research lab with Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly), studying Y chromosome variations in a number of global populations, and when I see them swarming around my garbage can here in Morocco, I’m strangely nostalgic for them (science people are endearingly weird). I recently read an article about the fast evolution of a particular variety of Drosophila on one of the Hawaiian Islands, and I was probably too riveted by it. However, this isn’t about me.

Regularly ranked amongst the 20 Most Influential Women in Science in the Islamic World by CEO Middle East magazine, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi has made a name for herself in numerous non-profit research organizations and government agencies. Fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish, plus conversational in Italian and Japanese, she has very few limitations in an increasingly globalized world. Currently the Director General of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), Dr. Elouafi strives to create sustainable farming methods for food security in the developing world, and was recognized for this research with the 2014 National Award Medal by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. Plus, she also received the 2014 Excellence in Science award from the Global Thinkers Forum for her extensive work in environmental science. Most recently, she was a recipient of the 2016 Arab Women of the Year award in recognition of her long-term promotion of science and innovation, especially amongst Arab women. The award recognizes Arab women who are scientific trailblazers, and it encourages more women to excel in their fields. Hopefully Dr. Elouafi’s work will continue to encourage more Arab women to pursue scientific routes, and it’s very clear that she is a shining role model for millions of young women in the Arab world.

Dr. Elouafi accepting her award at the 2016 Arab Women of the Year ceremony in London. She is wearing a traditional Moroccan takchita (from

Check out this video of Dr. Elouafi discussing food insecurity in the Arab world at the Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security conference in Addis Ababa, and take a look at her LinkedIn profile, too.

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