Nabil Wilf is a true Renaissance man. This Gates Cambridge Scholar is a molecular biologist who studies language, religion and women's rights. He's an American citizen, but he was born overseas. A practicing Bahá'í, his dad's family is Jewish-American, his mom's family is Kuwaiti of Muslim and Zoroastrian origin. A Fulbright Fellow to Kuwait, he speaks Arabic and has traveled to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and various other countries in the region. It's safe to say that if Georgia Tech held a contest naming the most well-rounded student, it's likely Wilf would win.
Wilf received his bachelor's degrees in both biology and international affairs from Tech in the spring of 2006. Last August, he traveled to Syria on a Fulbright language grant to study Arabic. This summer, he's in Kuwait working with a local scholar to study whether views on women's rights among the youth indicate that positive changes are likely in the future for women in the country.
"I want to know how women in Kuwait are shaping the national discourse, introducing their agenda for reform, and to study how these reforms are received by the youth," he said.
Wilf became interested in the issue while studying abroad for a year in Egypt on a National Security Education Program Scholarship. "In my classes, I saw how Islamic law is used to limit the rights of women in the Middle East," he said.
This fall, Wilf will study genetics at the University of Cambridge. Afterward, he intends to help promote and build the biotech sector in the Middle East, combining his scientific and social science interests.
"I don't want to be one of those people who goes to a country, learns the language and then comes back and forgets about it," he said.