iBOL Science Committee member recognized as “Face of Exchange” by U.S. State Department

Plant collection in Ehden Nature Reserve – north Lebanon
PHOTO CREDIT: Saint Joseph University

April 17, 2020

Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat, iBOL’s Science Committee member and a leader in DNA barcoding and conservation in Lebanon, has been named as a notable alumnus of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

For its 80th anniversary celebration, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) – a program that helps to foster international relationships through professional development exchanges – is highlighting 80 program alumni whose work has had a positive global impact.

Magda, a professor of plant genetics and Director, Department of Life and Earth Science at Saint-Joseph University (USJ) of Beirut, is recognized as a leader in environmental issues and conservation in Lebanon. As a participant in the 2013 IVLP entitled “Women’s Innovation in Science and Engineering”, Magda travelled throughout the U.S. building her professional networks. During her visit, she established a long-term collaboration with the Smithsonian to explore biodiversity using DNA barcoding and metabarcoding.

Prof. Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat

Constructing the Reference Library – DNA isolation
PHOTO CREDIT: Saint Joseph University

Using genomic tools to examine biodiversity in Eastern Mediterranean countries, Magda’s research investigates plant and animal species phylogeny, phylogeography, and their historical evolutionary processes. She is interested in using DNA barcoding to explore endemic plants and native animals and recently she has been focused on using eDNA metabarcoding to decipher the role of animal wildlife in ecological restoration processes. Her research results have allowed her to develop conservation policies and forest ecosystem restoration strategies that are optimizing the survival of tree populations in the face of climate change.

Read more about DNA barcoding in Lebanon.

Magda has also been working with insects in Lebanon, deploying Malaise traps in the mountains of Lebanon as a part of TRACE (Tracking the Response of Arthropods to Changing Environments), a major research theme within iBOL’s BIOSCAN research program. She is serves as President of “Jouzour Loubnan”, an NGO aiming to restore and rehabilitate the most degraded landscapes in Lebanon, and has launched an online database of native Lebanese flora.

As a member of iBOL since 2018, Magda has been actively involved in the iBOL community and has been motivating young researchers to advance their understanding of DNA barcoding and its role in conservation. In July 2019, she encouraged three researchers from her lab at USJ to travel to the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph in Canada to learn more about DNA barcoding workflows and research methods.

Read more about how BIOSCAN is inspiring Lebanon’s next generation of researchers

Media Contacts:

International Barcode of Life Consortium


Hannah James
Manager – Media & Strategic Communications

Donald Hobern iBOL Executive Secretary dhobern@uoguelph.ca

The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium is a research alliance with a mission to develop and apply a globally accessible, DNA-based system for the discovery and identification of all multicellular life. Our vision is to illuminate biodiversity for the benefit of our living planet.

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