Assistant professor, Health Studies
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Amman, Jordan, and I now live in Sycamore, Illinois.
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I have a bachelor's in nursing from the University of Jordan, a Master of Science in public health/epidemiology from the Jordan University of Science and Technology, and a Ph.D. in public health/epidemiology from Florida International University.
Were you a first-generation college student?
What do you like about working at NIU?
I like the great faculty and administrative workers, as well as the school spirit and all the resources for families, students and faculty.
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
My research is mainly on tobacco use, particularly recent tobacco use methods such as e-cigarettes and waterpipes. These new methods are perceived by the public as less harmful than cigarettes, probably because they use flavored tobacco. I was the first to show that waterpipe use among adolescents can be a gateway to cigarette smoking. In addition, I examined e-cigarette use and its associated factors among adults and adolescents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I teach biostatistics, a topic that can be scary to students. I want them to know that the course isn't that difficult. It's an applied course, not really a math class. The calculations are done by software. Most of the phenomena in life, not only in health sciences, are subject to probability. That's why we need probability science. To answer any research question, biostatistics is certainly needed. In my course, I make it clear that the base for the research design and statistical approach is the way we formulate our research question. So, what students need to learn from this course is how to select a statistical approach based on their data and research question. Then, they just need to provide the statistical program with the correct input, and it will do the work for them. However, they need to know how to interpret the output, too.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
My first day at the university.
Who has influenced your professional path?
My father, my family, my colleagues and my graduate school professors have influenced my professional path.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a physician. I got married early at 17 years old, so nursing was the closest option. I decided to study nursing and continue until I became a doctor. After I graduated from nursing school with three kids, it was difficult for me to study medicine. I worked with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jordan and changed my path to public health. Then, I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. in public health and epidemiology.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy drinking coffee, swimming, walking and biking.