Ahlem Zaghmi

Ahlem Zaghmi
Postdoctoral fellow, Karolinska Institute (Sweden)
PhD in Energy and Materials Science, 2021
Energy Materials Telecommunications Centre

“The PhD is not just a research job, it is also a chance for personal development and it allows us to integrate and expand our network of contacts.”

Postdoctoral researcher Ahlem Zaghmi holds a PhD in Energy and Materials Science from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS). She completed her thesis at the Centre Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications with the mention “Excellent” in 2020, under the supervision of Professor Marc-André Gauthier.

During her doctoral studies, Ahlem Zaghmi was awarded several scholarships, including a scholarship for doctoral excellence, the Mitacs Globalink scholarship, which allowed her to do an internship in Spain, and an excellence scholarship for international students managed by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FRQNT). She has also volunteered for numerous extra-curricular activities and represented INRS as an ambassador at various scientific fairs and events. In addition to being secretary of the student union of the Centre Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications (CEISME), she found time to get involved as a student member of the institutional sustainable development committee. Ahlem says without hesitation that “it is essential to participate in the student life of the centre where you are. It’s important to get involved in the community life. The PhD is not just a research job, it is also a chance for personal development and it allows us to integrate and expand our network of contacts.”

Ahlem recalls that the road to her PhD was full of obstacles and that it took a lot of determination to finish. Her supervisor did not hesitate to support her during these difficult times. “His empathy helped me get through it. Knowing that I had the support of my teacher helped me a lot,” she adds.

“I was very impressed by her perseverance and dedication to her scientific research and to the INRS community. I have never met a young person so prepared to immediately assume a leadership role when the need arises.”
— Professor Marc-André Gauthier

After graduating with her PhD in 2021, she has been invited to join Professor Per-Johan Jakobsson’s team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, an institute recognised as one of the world’s largest and most renowned medical research centres. Her research project, funded by Barncancerfonden (Swedish Paediatric Cancer Fund), is studying neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the cells (neuroblasts) in the nervous system of toddlers and newborns. Ahlem is trying to develop a non-invasive treatment to treat the tumour and prevent inflammation. Passionate about research, Ahlem feels privileged to be working on such an important project that she loves. She wants to continue in this direction.

Ahlem concludes that it is important to choose the right supervisor to undertake your graduate studies with. She feels that she was very lucky to do her PhD at INRS, as the structure ensures that students become complete, flexible and independent researchers. For her, it was a very rewarding five years.

When asked: What about the future? What are your dreams? She smiles immediately: “To get the Nobel Prize! Why not, that's my dream! I would also like to continue working in a university laboratory and set up my own laboratory. And if I can offer one piece of advice to future students: get involved in the community life of your centre, it's important. It's a great and beautiful adventure.” 

[Interviewed June 2022]