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RIHAB MOHAMAD - Ph.D. in Life Sciences and Health

What is your professional / educational background and what is your Ph.D. Topic?
My university background:
- 2008 – 2012 Doctorate at the University of Tours, Institute for Research on Insect Biology
- 2006 – 2007 Master's (second year) Research, Forest, Agronomy, Agricultural Engineering at the National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine, University of Nancy, France.
- 2003 – 2004 Master's (first year), Agronomy and Plant Protection, University of Techrine, Syria, option Plant Protection
- 1998 – 2003 Special diploma in Agronomy, University of Techrine, Syria, option Plant Protection - 1997 – 1998 High School diploma, sciences

My professional background:
2011 – 2012 Contractual teacher, University of Tours: Behavioral biology, Biology of Reproduction and Development, Ecology and Ethology
2010 – 2011 Teaching Fellow, University of Tours: Diversity in the Living World, Biology of Reproduction and Development
2005 – 2006 Assistant in the Plant Protection department, Agronomy faculty, University el-Baath, Syria
2004 – 2005 Teaching engineer, University of Techrine, Syria: Pest Control

My dissertation topic was: “Intra- and Inter- Specific Competition Amongst Two Sympatric Parasitoids: Conflict Resolution and Consequences on the Strategies of Host Exploitation”. The goal was to explain the different mechanisms involved in the coexistence of two types of solitary parasitoids, Eupelmus vuilleti and Dinarmus basalis, living in the same ecological niche, the larva and the nymphs of Callosobruchus maculatus (the cowpea weevil). In a situation of competition by exploitation, the females of D. basalis reject the hosts already parasited by E. vuilleti while those of E. vuilleti accept those parasited by D. basalis, even searching for them and preferring them to healthy hosts. What is more, these capacities of multi-parasitism are associated with ovicide and larvicide. Thus E. vuilleti presents characteristics of a dominant species, potentially capable of excluding D. basalis. Also, the question was raised as to how D. basalis can continue to exist in the same ecological niche as E. vuilleti, as is observed in certain African zones.

How has the Ph.D. process been for you?
My dissertation was long, because it was written during a time of family responsibilities (I am married, I already had my first daughter and there was the birth of my second child). I had a lot of difficult moments. But, in general, I was able to go through the Ph.D. calmly and seriously, telling myself that it was a very thorough and detailed work.

What have you learned from this experience?
The dissertation has allowed me to become an expert in my field and helped me to acquire academic rigor. I also learned to manage my time optimally, to teach, to work with students with their projects. I found in myself the ability to work and to organize that was greater than I expected.

What advice would you give to a student who was considering a Ph.D.?
To do a dissertation, you must be motivated, serious, and love to work.

What are you doing now?
I am currently looking for a post-doctoral position.