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Mohamad Moukaddam : lebanese tenured lecturer-researcher at the Faculty of Physics

Témoignage - Carrière

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Discover his career path and advice for future teacher-researchers

2007 - 2012 : from Master’s to PhD

After completing a 4-year course in physics at the Lebanese University in Beirut, Mohamad came to France in 2007 to pursue a Master’s degree in Subatomic Physics and Astroparticles (M2PSA) at the Faculty of Physics at Louis Pasteur University, now the Faculty of Physics and Engineering at the University of Strasbourg. He then proceeded to complete a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics and successfully defending his thesis in 2012.

During the final year of his Ph.D., Mohamad served as a Temporary Teaching and Research Assistant (ATER), gaining valuable teaching and research experience in addition to his tutoring and research conducted during his Ph.D.

After obtaining his Ph.D., he applied for and obtained the necessary "French teaching qualification," which is valid for 4 years, thus opening up the possibility to apply for higher-education teaching positions in France.

2013 - 2018 : post-doctoral experiences

Mohamad embarked on his first post-doctoral journey at TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator center in Vancouver, where he spent the years 2013 to 2016. During this period, he acquired extensive hands-on experience and forged valuable collaborations in both Canada and the UK, all while maintaining connections with the French scientific community in his field.

Concluding his postodoctoral fellowship at TRIUMF, Mohamad went to the University of Surrey, UK, where he undertook a second post-doctoral fellowship from 2016 to 2018.

While simultaneously advancing his research activity, he actively engaged in teaching at the University of Surrey on a voluntary basis. Moreover, he pursued and successfully renewed his "French teaching qualification" a requisite credential for prospective tenured lecturer-researcher roles. In 2018, an opportunity arose for a lecturer-researcher position at the Faculty of Physics and Engineering at the University of Strasbourg, which Mohamad promptly seized and was met with success.

Actual position and aspirations

Since 2019, he has served as a tenured lecturer-researcher at the University of Strasbourg. Securing an IdEx grant (Initiatives d'Excellence), he initiated a collaborative effort with European and French collaborators to develop a detector designed to explore specific aspects of nuclear structure induced by nuclear reactions.

Throughout his tenure, he has been actively engaged in supervising and co-supervising numerous students at the master's and Ph.D. levels, as well as undergraduate students. Presently, he is co-supervising a Ph.D. thesis focused on characterising and constructing a new gamma-ray detector utilising "tracking techniques."

Simultaneously, he is involved in recruiting another Ph.D. candidate for a separate research project centered on the investigation of nuclear structure. With short-term plans to obtain habilitation (Habilitation à diriger des recherches, HDR), he aims to expand his research activities in nuclear matter structure alongside his teaching responsibilities.

Advice for future teacher-researchers

  • "Persist but be realistic” : importance of not excessively extending or multiplying postdoctoral positions ;
  • Trying to maintain a teaching activity alongside research activities ;
  • Taking into account key ciriteria: number of teaching hours, the breadth of subject areas covered, the classes level and involvement in outreach activities and contributing to institute life (“Open Days” , “Public tours” events ...) ;
  • Mastering both the French and English languages ;
  • Pursuing postdoctoral opportunities abroad and in line with one’s objectives ;
  • Achieving the primary objective of the postdoctoral position and disseminating the results through international conferences and publications ;
  • Co-supervising undergraduate and graduate students (Master's and Ph.D.) during a postdoctoral fellowship is considered an asset ;
  • Collaborating closely with engineers and technicians and organizing meetings, leading discussions, and coordinating or co-organising scientific events (schools or conferences) ;
  • Having a “Plan B” outside of academia : one's unique circumstances must be considered, and feasibility of any plan should be based on individual abilities, resources, and contextual factors, which may vary over time.