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Interview with Dr. Randa Nasr Ahmed Yamani



Interview with Dr. Randa Nasr Ahmed Yamani, National Institute of Standards (NIS), Giza (Egypt) 
[Braunschweig, 4 January 2023]

Dr. Randa Nasr Ahmed Yamani works at Egypt’s National Institute of Standards (NIS). As a guest scientist, she currently forms part of PTB’s working group 3.13 “Electrochemistry”.


PTB: Since July 2022 you are staying at PTB as a guest scientist – maybe you can tell us something about your work or research activities at home and here at PTB?

Randa: Well, at the NIS I am working as a researcher in the division of chemical metrology, to be more precise at the inorganic and electrochemistry lab. So, I am working let’s say in two working groups, on the one hand, the activities concerned with inorganic chemical metrology and on the other hand the electrochemistry activity.


PTB: Ah yes, I see. Given that you are in the electrochemistry working group here at PTB, I assume there has been a special reason for your stay… or maybe even a joint project?

Randa: Yes, indeed. The electrochemistry lab at NIS is rather new. It started as a joint project with PTB to help build our primary pH measurement system.


PTB: So, you are starting to set up a measurement place for primary pH measurements at NIS with the help of PTB?

Randa: Well, the joint project already started some time ago, I think in 2018, and in the past years we already started to get the necessary equipment and components.


PTB: So, you have been to PTB before?

Randa: Yes, in 2019 I and a colleague spent two weeks at PTB to have a look at the system here, and then we tried to copy this set-up in Egypt which by now is completed up to 70/80 %.


PTB: So, it’s your second stay here at PTB?

Randa: Yes, my second stay at PTB and my third stay in Germany. I have already been to Germany in 2007, for technical training in Jena. But now, as a guest researcher at PTB, it’s the first time for me that I’m abroad for a longer time.


PTB: There are a few years between your first stay at PTB and your current one…

Randa: After our visit to PTB in 2019, I already decided to come here as a guest researcher in 2020, but unfortunately it was not possible due to the pandemic.


PTB: Too bad, but now finally you are here…

Randa: Yes, and it is important for us. As I already told you, my current stay is about getting to know the primary system for pH measurements. It’s about getting a deeper insight. Not only to know the setup and its hardware components but also to learn how it is operated and how to work with it, the practical side so to say.


PTB: I understand. And I suppose that later you will also be able to give some sort of training to your colleagues at home?

Randa: Yes, exactly.


PTB: And what is the significance of this system for the NIS?

Randa: It is really of great significance. We will be one of the leaders in the Arabian region to have this setup - well, I think Saudi Arabia has a similar kind of this setup - but for us, it is of great importance. Having this kind of primary measurement lets us move from a secondary to a primary standard level and prove our competitiveness in this sector. We will be able to take part in interlaboratory comparisons and, of course, it will help us improve our services to many sectors like the industrial sector, so there is also the economic factor.


PTB: Ok. Well, maybe you can also tell us something about your personal experiences. For example, let’s start with the work environment here at PTB. Is it similar to NIS, or are there great differences?

Randa: Well, the work itself, there is no difference. At home, I’d say I have more work to do because there I work not only at the electrochemistry lab but also in the field of inorganic chemistry.


PTB: And what about the size of the NIS? How many employees does it have?

Randa: There are approximately 1.000 employees – around 300 researchers, and the rest is the administrative staff.


PTB And your team at NIS at the electrochemistry lab?

Randa: We are 6 employees, including the head of the laboratory. It’s about the same size here at PTB.


PTB: So, regarding the work, there are no major differences?

Randa: No. The only different thing is the supply of materials. Here in Germany, everything is available or can be ordered and delivered rather quickly. In Egypt, we have bigger problems with that. Not everything is always available, and we sometimes wait weeks or even months to get certain materials or components.


PTB: And on a personal level? How did you experience your stay here in Germany?

Randa: To be honest… when I arrived here in July, I would have liked to go back straight away. It all took some time to get used to, and I wasn’t sure if I would survive the time here.


PTB: Sorry to hear that. Was there a special reason?

Randa: No, it was more a general feeling… being away from home for a rather long time, without the family… and not being sure how exactly life works around here, what are the rules, possible language barriers… it was a little bit frightening.


PTB: Oh, I see… but I think that has changed meanwhile. Originally, you planned to stay until the end of December and now you have extended your stay here by two months.

Randa: Well, yes… as I said, it was just at the beginning. But after that, it was rather easy. Once you know how everything works, it’s easy to live here. Braunschweig is a beautiful city with a lot of green areas. People in general are very kind and helpful and communication in English is possible in a lot of places. And the colleagues here at PTB are also very helpful and very supportive. For example, I was able to find my private accommodation in advance, through the mediation of a PTB colleague.


PTB: Anything else you’d like to add?

Randa: Health insurance. Treatment costs in Germany seem to be quite high, so you should look carefully at which kind of health insurance you choose.


PTB: Well, thank you very much for sharing some of your impressions and experiences.

Randa: Oh, you’re welcome – my pleasure.