SESAME: Defying borders in the Middle East – Science and Society

Science and Society Seminar

SESAME: Defying borders in the Middle East

Science and principles of scientific conduct are universal leading to free communication of ideas and sharing of results, as we have seen in the race for finding solutions for the global threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists have easily reached and collaborated across borders to achieve shared goals. In this lecture I will talk about a different collaborative project, SESAME*, that does not recognize conventional borders. This advanced synchrotron radiation infrastructure, located in Jordan, came to being through joint efforts by Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Pakistan and Turkey, and is supported by several observer countries. SESAME creates a positive dynamism in the region by providing scientists with new tools at its beamlines and by opening possibilities for collaborations among scientists coming from diverse cultural and political backgrounds. As well as science that is produced at SESAME, I will also discuss different aspects of this project including how SESAME can become a truly international lab and how this scientific endeavor can reach society at large, beyond scientists.

*Synchrotron light source for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East

person profile

Zehra Sayers

Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey


Zehra Sayers, is a professor of Biophysics and one of the founding members of Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Sabanci University (SU), Turkey. She has also served as the Director of Foundations Development (Core Curriculum) Program (2010-2018) and as the interim President of SU (2018).

Professor Sayers has an international research career including working as a staff scientist at EMBL Hamburg and post doc work at the open University Oxford Research Unit, UK and the Wallenberg Laboratory in Uppsala Sweden. Currently she is on a research sabbatical at the EMBL Hamburg Unit.  Her latest research focus is on mechanisms of iron binding and release from a bacterial iron transporter.

Professor Sayers has been the Chair of the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) for over 15 years. She is a recipient of the Rammal Award (2017) for her scientific research as well as contributions, as Chair of SAC, to the SESAME project from its construction to maturation as an international user facility. For this she was also a co-recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2019 award for Science Diplomacy and she was included in the BBC list of 100 Most Inspiring and Influential Women of 2019.

Professor Sayers is the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Turkish Accelerator project at Ankara University, Turkey and an honorary member of the Science Academy of Turkey.

Read more about SESAME and EMBL alumna Zehra Sayers

Date: 16 Apr 2021

Location: Virtual

Time: 1:00 pm

Contact: Lucia von Bredow