Entomologist by passion: Marwa Shumo

“I hope that more women, especially from the Global South, will be able to follow their passion”.

Fact sheet

  • Marwa Abdelhamid Shumo comes from Oman
  • PhD at ZEF: 2014 – 2019
  • PhD topic: Use of Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) in bio-conversion and feed production.
  • PhD funding agencies: INSFEED: Insect feed for poultry and fish production in sub Saharan Africa; International Development Research Centre (IDRC); Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); Development and implementation of insect-based products to enhance food and nutritional security in sub-Saharan Africa (EntoNUTRI); Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); ZEF University of Bonn and International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)
  • Supervisor: Professor Christian Borgemeister
  • Current position: R&D Project Manager, BEETLEFOODS GmbH and Associated Researcher, ZEF (Uni Bonn)
  • Career stations since graduation: International Center for Insect Ecology and Physiology, Kenya / DRIIP Scholar & Visiting Scientist; Hermetia Baruth GmbH, Germany / R & D Scientist and Postdoctoral Researcher; Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie (ATB) , Germany / Postdoctoral Researcher; FLYFEED, Vietnam / Head of  Biochemical Development Department; BEETLEFOODS GmbH, Germany / R & D Project Manager.

Prizes and Awards


Q&A with Marwa

What was your motivation for conducting your doctoral research at ZEF?

I was looking for a PhD program that would not limit me to a lab but would take me to the field and all over the globe. Doing my PhD at ZEF was the best decision I took in my life so far because the experiences and opportunities I earned were larger than life.

How has the topic of your doctoral research evolved in your opinion?

There have been drastic changes since the days I embarked on my PhD at ZEF and a lot happening on the ground these days. EU laws have been relaxed in order to welcome the utilization of insects for food and feed as well as many entrepreneurs are picking up the topic globally and are trying to industrialize the use of insects for food and feed.

How has your doctoral training at ZEF impacted your career and from what aspects did you benefit most?

I am lucky to have focused on an applied research discipline at its infancy, which made me some sort of a pioneer. Training at ZEF provided me with cross-cutting and trans-disciplinary learning experiences – either through the teaching program, and the research and outreach activities at ZEF or during lab and field work in Kenya.

Furthermore, during my time at ZEF, I focused very much on scientific communication. Especially the COVID-19 era showed us scientists how important it is to be able to simplify scientific content to the wider public. The ZEF PR team supported and trained me during my journey at ZEF and provided me with endless opportunities and formats to share my research findings or academic interests. A selection of the occasions I joined to communicate my scientific work: ZEF Blog, Uni Bonn Science Nights, Villa Hammerschmidt Open Door Day, Science Slams and many more.

One of the unique aspects of ZEF is its international community both at senior and junior levels. At ZEF, you may travel the world in half an hour while still be physically sitting in the canteen at  Genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn, enjoying your lunch and sharing stories from home with your colleagues from all continents.

What are you most proud of / content with in terms of what you have achieved career wise so far?

I have managed to cultivate a well-rounded and holistic experience in my field of expertise. I am very proud of being able to bridge science and innovation from lab studies and trials to real-time industrial applications. I am also very proud of being a woman in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). I hope that more women, especially those from the Global South, will be able to follow their passion whether to be a ballerina, a footballer of a rocket scientist and become trailblazers and role models for little girls.  

What motivates you to keep going in your field?

Passion: I simply love what I do for living

What are your best memories of ZEF?

The day I defended my thesis surrounded by my supervisor, colleagues and some dear friends. Indeed, as I write down these words, I vividly remember my feelings during the day of my defense. Of course, I had a very big smile on my face. Moreover, the very beautiful times I spent during my field research in Kenya that were characterized by nice weather, warm people, supportive mentors and yummy food! Last but not least, the ZEF trip to Japan and everything that we saw and experienced as a group together there. Especially the sisterhood moments I shared with my dear colleague, friend and sister Tasneem.

ZEF and its Doctoral Program turn 25 this year. What are your wishes and suggestions for their future?

Happy Birthday ZEF, May you continue to inspire generations of researchers who are interested in making a difference in this world. May you always focus on the marginalized, forgotten and neglected i.e. the Global South.


Marwa celebrating her successfull doctoral defense at ZEF (January 2020)

Watch the 5-minute video clip in which Marwa shares insights of her doctoral research conducted at ZEF (2020).

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