Dr. Kassem ALSAYED MAHMOUD is a bioscientist who was conscripted into the Syrian army in 2010. Despite he was working as assistant professor at Al-Furat University in Dayr az Zawr, he was firstly recruited only for one year that it would soon become much longer than that.
With no previous military experience, he couldn’t take it anymore and in 2012 he decided to desert. After months of going from one place to another, his brother was killed during fighting in Dayr az Zawr. “The situation had become so dangerous that my family pushed me to leave immediately,” says Alsayed Mahmoud.
In 2014, Scholars at Risk organization found him a one-year postdoc position in the food-science department at Ghent University in Belgium. Alsayed Mahmoud managed to travel to France and secure a work visa to enter Belgium where he finally arrived in August 2015. He was happy to be mentally engaged and to expand his lab skills and was accepted to hold a fellowship for refugee scientist in the Free University of Brussels (ULB), where he has been studying environmentally efficient methods for degrading potato waste from industrial processing since 2016.
Now he’s settled in Brussels, where he has become mentor to other refugee scientists at ULB. “People are so helpful and kind,” says Alsayed Mahmoud. “I never felt like I was not accepted.”