MNS portrait #3 – Nawel Jmail, MEG and intracranial EEG expert

We met Nawel last week in Marseille, during a short research stay to work with ancient coworkers and mentors, before coming back home to Sfax University. Drinking a cup of tea together, she is excited to learn that the call for contributed symposia to MNS 2019 Marrakech meeting is open: “I will try hard organizing at least one symposium with colleagues in Tunisia!” she declares, before beginning her interview.
Starting neuroscience study and travelling from Tunisia to France is quiet difficult in the beginning. Everything was new to me, new culture, country

Who are you, where are you from? Which education path did you follow?

I am Nawel Jmail, 33 years old, a Tunisian woman.

I studied as an electrical engineer diploma at the “École nationale d’ingénieurs de Sfax”, University of Sfax, Tunisia. In 2012, I obtained my Phd in Neuroscience from Marseille University and Sfax University –it was a co tutelle phd), under the direction of Dr. Christian G Bénar.

What is your topic of research and what do you like into it?

Basically, I am interested in the definition of the epileptogenic zones : region responsible of the excessive discharges of an epileptic seizure for pharmaco resistant subjects.
During my phd I tried to compute the connectivity of two types of epileptic biomarkers transitory and oscillatory activities.
Then, I performed the source localization of these separated activities to define which activity is the best for the recognition of epileptogenic region.
We tried also to evaluate two modalities of acquisition an invasive and a non invasive one (the MEG and the intracerabral EEG signal) for the same purpose: the accurate epileptic zone detection.

Was it difficult to get where you are? Any obstacle you met? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Starting neuroscience study and travelling from Tunisia to France is quiet difficult in the beginning. Everything was new to me, new culture, country, people and of course new studies. But, I was also so excited that I am living new experience and that I started my phd in the neuroscience field. It was my dream since I was a little girl to have a phd in a medical domain. The first good thing to me was my supervisor Christian G Bénar, I owe him everything he was always by my side, he believed in me and this is so important to me. By the way, I was his first phd student.
We applied in several scholarships and he helped me a lot, I got the European Union Averroes grant (very prestigious scholarship).

Then I started working with Christian G Bénar, he was very supportive and helpful.
Not only my supervisor, but in the MEG center and in the medicine faculty everybody was so nice and helpful to me.
I want to thank them by the way: Professor Patrick Chauvel , Catherine Chauvel, Martine Gavaret, Fabrice Bartolomei, Francessca Bonin, Urszula Malinowsk , Marcel Carrère and Veronique Ayala….
It took me only two years and two months to defend my phd, all this was thanks to my hard work and of course thanks to Christian G Bénar. I do not find the sufficient words to tell him how grateful I am.

What are your future plans or hopes? Would you like going back to your home country or not and why?

In fact after my phd, I got a position back in my home since 2012 as an assistant professor at University of Monastir, but, still, I try each year to come for short stay to proceed on my research with my laboratory INS in Marseille.
But, now I am seriously thinking to come back here for a new one year post doc, maybe already next year.

Nawel Jmail is actually an assistant professor at Sfax university Tunisia and a post doc at MIRACL laboratory in collaboration with the DynaMap team of INS.