Meet L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Winner Ayesha Abdulla Alkhoori

Lindsay Judge   |   06-12-2022

Emirati student Ayesha Abdulla Alkhoori was honoured for her research on converting Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into clean fuel to alleviate global warming and provide a solution for the energy depletion crisis. We find out more about how her research could help preserve the future of the world as we know it.


Can you give us a brief overview of your research and project?

Curiosity and problem-solving are deeply rooted in our human nature. As an Emirati PhD student, engineer, and experimentalist my vision is to come up with solutions for urging problems such as global warming, energy shortage and environmental pollution worldwide. The CO2 emissions in the atmosphere peaked for 2022 at 421.42 parts per million in June which increased by 32% over the past 6 decades. In my research, I work on developing affordable materials/catalysts which can convert carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming) to a Methane fuel. The catalysts which I prepare in the lab are green and eco-friendly materials with a high performance-to-cost ratio.



Why is this an area or topic you were particularly passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about science that makes tangible impacts and improves the quality of life. This topic directly impacts humans and the planet we live on. It is aligned with the global efforts in limiting the temperature rise well below 2°C as well as the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative in cutting emissions as close to zero as possible.


What more would you like to see being done in the region surrounding this?

We have already witnessed major changes in Abu Dhabi, where I live, and the UAE at large. The UAE recently announced for example, that it would invest $163 billion in clean and renewable energy and key technologies. I hope to see more industry engagement with academia to ensure research starts to have an impact in the country.


What does it mean to you for your work to be recognised by a global institution such as L’Oreal?

It is a great honour and privilege to be recognised by L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science for my achievements as an engineer and a PhD student. It is always a confidence boost to be recognised and for my work to be accepted by other scientists. This recognition will open future doors for me and motivate me to achieve and excel in my research. I am very grateful for this honour, which is unique, and I’m very proud to win alongside other researchers in the medical field. This is an incentive for every ambitious woman and young girl to achieve and persevere, persist and adapt, and pursue a goal and stick with it if she encounters obstacles or setbacks. I believe today I have proven myself right, that I could have a happy, rewarding, and influential career by following my passion and becoming a scientist in the engineering field.


What is the biggest challenge you face in what you do?

Time is the biggest challenge I face in my research. Sometimes, I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day! The long hours which come with the laboratory work from synthesising/making new materials to performing various tedious experiments in a short time is a challenge. Consequently, work-life balance can be a major struggle at times.



In an industry that is often dominated by men how do you ensure your voice is heard? 

As an Emirati woman, working in a field that is so dear to my heart, I feel empowered and encouraged by a leadership that believes in the capacity of its people. It is truly an exciting time to be an Emirati woman and to witness more women empowered in decision-making roles whether in politics, media, business, etc. Today, women occupy 66% of public sector jobs—one of the highest proportions worldwide—in the UAE. Where 30% are in senior leadership positions and decision-making roles. Women are respected and equally represented. Our voices are heard, and we are encouraged to take part in the UAE’s growth journey.


What does it mean to you to represent your country in the world of science?

Representing my country in the world of science is the biggest accomplishment any proud Emirati dreams of. I am absolutely honoured and thrilled to win this award next to another Emirati scientist, my colleague, Hessa AlFalahi.


What is something you would still like to do that you haven’t done yet? 

I would like to utilize my knowledge and engineering insight in becoming an international UN volunteer, teaching kids in countries with the highest rates of education exclusion.


What is the professional motto that you live by? 

A quote by Steve Jobs says: “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” And it took me twelve years to be who I am today.