Iconic Women

Syrian-born Astrophysicist, Dr Rim Turkmani

By Aisha Kabiru Mohammed | Apr 28, 2023

Dr Rim Turkmani is a Syrian-born Astrophysicist by training. She is a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science's Department of International Development's Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit.

She is in charge of the Unit's Syria conflict research. Her policy-oriented research focuses on identity politics, legitimate governance, transitioning from a war economy to a peace economy, and the relationship between local and external conflict drivers. 

Turkmani is a member of the United Nation’s Special Envoy to Syria's Women's Advisory Board, as well as the advisory board of airwars.org, which monitors international coalition strikes against ISIS. She was the project director for 'Crowd-sourcing Conflict and Peace 'Events' in the Syrian Conflict,' which resulted in a detailed database of instances of violence and peace-making.

Turkmani brings her research findings to policymakers, having been invited twice by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the UK parliament to provide expert testimony on aspects of the Syrian crisis and UK foreign policy. In 2016, Turkmani authored a chapter on EU policy in Syria as part of the report 'From Hybrid Peace to Human Security: Rethinking EU Strategy Toward Conflict,' which was officially presented to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as part of Mogherini's global review of EU external strategy.

Part of the report's language was adopted in the final new EU external strategy published by Mogherini in 2016.

She frequently appears in Arabic and English media commenting on Syria.

She is a trained astrophysicist, a former Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow of the Royal Society, and a writer/curator on the history of Islamic science and culture, focusing on the impact of Arabic/Islamic science on the 17th-century scientific revolution. She organized two international exhibitions on the topic.

In an interview, Dr Rim expressed an interest in Islamic and Arabic science. She became interested in ancient Middle Eastern history in 2002. Dr Rim's friend who worked on the history of Islamic intellectual thought drew her attention to this period and the fact that it is more relevant to our current times than ancient history. She began reading more about the Arabic-Islamic history of astronomy in the Middle Ages as an astronomer and found it very interesting and stimulating.

In that era, she broadened her interest to the general subject of science and philosophy, and before long, I began giving public talks on the subject, and the feedback she received was very encouraging. She gave talks in Sweden, Austria, England, and other countries and was always overwhelmed by the response. It inspired her to do more work in this area.

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