Chicago Muslim (and Seeker of Knowledge) Jameela Jafri is Scientist of the Month – Chicago Crescent

Source: Chicago Crescent


The Association for Women in Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving equity and full participation of women in all areas of science, technology and engineering, recognized Jameela Jafri as Scientist of the Month in September 2010.

A Columbia University graduate, Jafri was recognized for her work as the manager of the girls’ programs for Project Exploration. Founded in 1999, PE is a non-profit science organization whose goal is to “change the face of science” by working to ensure communities traditionally overlooked, particularly minority youth and girls, have access to personalized experiences with science and scientists.

For almost four years, Jafri worked closely with professional female scientists helping them cultivate and develop meaningful relationships with students through after-school programs such as Sisters4Science, summer field experiences to Yellowstone National Park, weekend retreats and other science education services for Chicago public school girls.

Heather King, a first year PhD candidate in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, nominated Jafri for the honor. King has known and worked very closely with Jafri for three years as a volunteer with PE.

“Through Scientist of the Month, AWIS identifies and highlights individuals who are serving to bring women to science,” King said. “Jameela has a wonderful gift in reaching the youth. She has such a burning enthusiasm for science and has the ability to embark others towards the field. She is a great educator and has inspired me to work with youth particularly in science,” shared King.

In 2004, Jafri took a hiatus from teaching science to study tajweed (rules of Quranic recitation) and Arabic in Syria. While there, she received her ijaaza in Quran. Upon her return, she taught Quran to sisters in the Hyde Park community. She continued her Shariah studies in Chicago through Darul Qasim under the guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Amin Kholwadia. This year, she received a Fulbright Scholarship from the United States Department of State to return to Damascus to study science education.

“I am examining perceptions of science and technology among underprivileged women,” said Jafri. “While I conduct my research, I am taking advantage of the vast number of scholars in the blessed city and continuing my Shariah studies. Within the study of Hanafi fiqh itself, I am particularly interested in women’s issues, because I work with female populations that may not readily have access to resources and information,” she said.

With her science background coupled with an understanding of the Islamic rulings, Jafri hopes to gain a particular perspective that will be of benefit to the female Muslim community.