Membership Q&A

Issue: Oceans

05 February 2019 article


This is a regular column to introduce our members. In this issue, we’re pleased to introduce Alya Redhwan.

Where are you currently based?

In Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I work as an assistant professor of microbiology at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU).

What is your area of specialism?

My research in microbiology focuses on bacterial pathogenesis and its virulence factors.

And more specifically?

The bacterial secretion system is my topic of interest, especially type three secretion systems and the associated pathogenesis, and the potential therapeutic applications.

Tell us about your education to date

I completed my undergraduate study at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, with a major in Microbiology. I then moved to the UK to pursue my higher education at Nottingham Trent University where I completed my MSc in Biotechnology and my PhD under the supervision of Dr Alan McNally, as part of his group focusing on a project characterising a novel type three secretion system in the non-pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica strains.

Where did your interest in microbiology come from?

I was a curious child, always trying to find an answer to every single question and wondering about nature and science in general. Once I joined a college and began lab work, I discovered a whole new world, or universe, existing beyond the naked eye. Further along in my studies I was inspired by the fact that bacteria possess and inherit genetic information the same as we do and I was, and remain, fascinated.

What are the professional challenges that present themselves, and how do you try to overcome them?

Having difficulty accessing the laboratory environment once I came back to my home country. However, I’ve overcome the challenges by seeking scientific collaborations at the national and international level, in addition to establishing a Microbiology and Immunology research unit at the Health Science Research Centre at PNU.

What is the best part about ‘doing science’?

The challenge, and the adventure linked to it. Things start to interest me less and I lose passion when the aspects of risk and adventure are lost.

Who is your role model?

I don't have a specific role model in my life, as I learn from every person I encounter in my life.

What do you do to relax?


What one record and luxury item would you take to a desert island?

A fiction novel and my wrist watch.

Tell us one thing that your work colleagues won’t know about you.

My quiet childhood, and a lot about my personal life.

If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?

An artist.

If you would like to be featured in this section or know someone who may, contact Paul Easton, Head of Membership Services, at [email protected].

Image: Alya Redhwan.