QNRF Newsletter Archive

Mrs. Noor Al-Merekhi, NPRP Program Manager

Mrs. Noor Al-Merekhi, NPRP Program Manager
Born and raised in Qatar, Noor Al-Merekhi has been working with QNRF since the inception of its National Priorities Research Program (NPRP). As its manager, she says one of the strengths of the Program and QNRF at large is the application of lessons learned.

Q: What stands out and excites you about living in Qatar?
A: For me, as a Qatari, it's incredible to see the development taking place in a short amount of time. The skyscrapers in West Bay are the main landmarks, and I've noticed recently that we are starting to get many tourists from the Gulf area visiting Qatar just to enjoy this beautiful modernized area.

Q: How long have you been with QNRF?
A: Almost 6 years, I actually joined with the start of the NPRP program.

Q: What distinguishes QNRF from other funding agencies?
A: Like any other funding agency we were set up to serve the goals and missions that were assigned to us. However, we are unique in the design of our programs, which attract international scientists to collaborate with scientists in Qatar. This has supported the growth of a research culture inside Qatar in addition to technology transfer to Qatar. Our mission wasn't easy; we had to design a model that would benefit Qatar over the long run through sustainable research outcomes.

Q: You are the NPRP Program Manager, what does this mean, what do you oversee?
A: The NPRP is the flagship funding program of QNRF. It is also the only program that allows international research scientists to apply for funding with the condition that they collaborate with researchers inside Qatar. As the Program Manager for the NPRP, I manage and facilitate its implementation, starting with the application process and ending with the award announcement.

Q: How would you describe an average day in this role?
A: I would say that there is no such thing as an "average day" at QNRF, but usually my day starts with going through all the enquiries that I receive from applicants and peer reviewers. I then start following up on the NPRP and NPRP-Exceptional Proposal (NPRP-EP) processes, at whatever stage they are in, from application to proposal screening to peer reviewing. The follow-up process involves close interaction with QNRF IT and our technical Program Managers and Officers, which sometimes involves setting meetings to approach any issues with suitable solutions.

Q: What are some of the highlights of your position at QNRF—things that give you the most satisfaction?
A: Overcoming any challenge is for me the most satisfying thing, and challenges do come a lot, which is expected for any nascent organization.

Q: If you were to share one valuable insight from your experience with the research community, what would it be?
A: I would like to tell all our research applicants who have not managed to get awarded yet that there is always room for development especially with regards to applying for funding, and the best tool they have is peer reviewer feedback, combined with the resubmission option.

Q: What do you see in the future for Qatar, as a nation, and its research community?
A: The future is very promising when it comes to research in Qatar, where many research centers and institutions have been established to set the foundation for a strong research community. As a research funding agency we are one of the pillars that have established the foundation for achieving the national research goals as outlined by the Qatar National Research Strategy.

Q: Any other insights you would like to share from your experience with QNRF?
A: I must say that one of our strongest points is our regular evaluation of our approaches and policies. We form "Lessons Learned" committees that go through the collective feedback for any program, from our staff or through our surveys with applicants, research offices and peer reviewers. The outcomes of these committee meetings help us update the current policies and processes on a regular basis.

Noor, we thank you very much for this interview and wish you the best of luck with all of your future work at QNRF.

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