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Separated by coma

A scholarship of excellence for Rima, a Lebanese doctoral student

Developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eiffel scholarships enable higher education institutions to attract the best foreign students into master's and doctorate-level courses. We met with Rima Al Aridi, who is pursuing her thesis at the Angers Systems Engineering Research Laboratory (Laris), Laboratoire angevin de recherche en ingénierie des systèmes.

Rima's French is a little shaky, but she's hanging in there. Alongside Thierry Lemenand, her thesis director at Polytech Angers, the Lebanese doctoral student is smiling. Rima Al Aridi has now been in France for six months and in September she began her third year of her thesis, financed by an Eiffel scholarship. "It was complicated at the beginning, there was a lot of information to provide, but I was well supported by my thesis director and by the university's International Office for international researchers", she points out.

Awarded by Campus France, Eiffel scholarships are highly selective and allow the funding of a year's thesis for foreign students. Good news for Rima, who lost hers in Lebanon two years earlier due to the economic situation and after the explosions at the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. "Some days we only had one hour of electricity in a day," she says. "So I was working three different jobs at the time to earn money."

The first visit in September 2021

Then in her second year of a thesis at the Lebanese International University (LIU), a partner institution of UA, Rima went to France for the first time in September 2021, for a one-month exchange at Laris. She would then return in April 2022. "Until August, she worked with industrial partners on a project financed by the Pays de la Loire Region in connection with the development of a heat pump that does not use any cooling fluid, a material that has a very significant greenhouse effect and whose use is increasingly regulated," explains Thierry Lemenand. Laris' mission is to build a test bench to test energy performance.

 "Physics is everywhere in our daily lives".

Rima is now working on her thesis on improving heat transfer in heat exchangers (concentric tubes incorporating thermoelectric generators, for example) using various hybrid heat recovery systems. The aim is to convert some of this heat into electricity.

Her scientific interest was sparked at an early age. "Ever since I was a little girl, I have been interested in physical mechanisms in a broad sense: I liked to repair the radio in the living room or open the system of an electrical appliance to see what was inside. I discovered physics in high school and I liked it right away: it is everywhere in our daily lives."

Today, alongside her research, she has been publishing explanatory videos on her YouTube channel about mechanical engineering since 2018. Rima now has an idea in mind: defending her thesis in November 2023. And the future? "I would like to stay in France to do academic research or in a company."

Eiffel scholarship

Another Lebanese doctoral student, Christina Sahyoun, was awarded an Eiffel scholarship within the Mitovasc research unit. Her thesis topic concerns the characterisation of natural substances active on cardiovascular function from the venom of the Lebanese viper, Montivipera bornmuelleri, and from a chemical library of plant alkaloids.