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Posted on Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 9:59 a.m.

University of Michigan researcher wins $35,000 award for immigrant scientists

By Kellie Woodhouse

A University of Michigan Lebanese-born scientist has won a $35,000 award for his biomedical research.


Hashim Al-Hashimi

U-M photo

The Vilcek Foundation bestowed Hashim Al-Hashimi, a Robert L. Kuczkowski Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biophysics, with its 2013 Creative Promise in Biomedical Science award for pioneering use of nuclear magnetic resonance technology.

The prize recognizes young immigrant scientists with early career achievements.

Al-Hashimi develops methods that combine nuclear magnetic resonance and computational approaches to visualize cellular molecules and processes, such as DNA replication, at an atomic resolution.

Al-Hashimi was also recognized as one of Pop Sci magazine's "brilliant 10" in 2011.

In a 2008 recommendation for a promotion, College of Literature, Science and Arts dean Terrence McDonald called Al-Hashimi "an outstanding and creative researcher, a dedicated mentor and an innovative instructor."

According to its website, the Vilcek Foundation works to raise awareness of immigrant contributions to American arts and sciences.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

What is Life? Firstly, thanks for sharing this story. Secondly, congratulations to this young scientist. This investigation of DNA molecules is possible because of advances in Physical Science which provide the necessary tools to make our observations. This young man is able to make the proposal for his research because of his location; a seat of learning where the tools are available to create the new opportunities. His Lebanese origin is of interest and it is Michigan that gets the recognition for being the Land of Opportunity. Hopefully, by directly observing DNA molecules and the cellular processes, we will get a chance to answer the question, What is Life? When we study Life at the level of molecules, the identity of Lebanon, and the U.S. will disappear in thin air.

Great Lakes Lady

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Congrats to Prof. Al-Hashimi! Years ago in order to immigrate to the US one had to have a sponsor and show proof that they had a job. Today is a different story. What many people are opposed to are non-contributing immigrants who go on the welfare rolls, collect food stamps, etc.... Quote: "USDA has engaged in an aggressive outreach and promotional campaign to boost food stamp enrollment. Among these efforts are an ongoing partnership with the Mexican government to advertise food stamps to Mexican nationals, migrant workers, and non-citizen immigrants. Partly as a result of these efforts, the number of non-citizens on food stamps has quadrupled since 2001."

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

@JuliaS: "why is this news? Good for him, but it seems like a fairly minor award." There are no fairly minor awards, only fairly minor people complaining about others' awards.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Is he a real immigrant, or an American who claimed to be Kenyan / raised in Indonesia to enhance his chances of being accepted to Michigan and to receive financial aid earmarked for foreign students? Will his transcripts be sealed now?


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Prof. Al-Hashimi recieved his BS in Chamistry from Kings's College, London, UK. No US financial aid "earmarked for foreign students" involved here. And besides, the vast majority of all UM financial aid goes to in-state students.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

Do you speak from experience? Is that what you did?


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Snark ... your response is a bit convoluted in that there likely is no issue with dividing "people" into categories involving age or gender ... But, when you divide people simply based on their race or ethnicity then that's a much larger issue ~ Yes, it probably boils down to your "big-picture" approach toward this matter ... a matter which has been debated for many years. Peace !


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

My answer was meant to be sarcastic. We certainly do hear people complain about awards or grants for women, for instance. The people complaining about specialized awards, schools, teams, etc. creating an unequal playing field fail to admit that the playing field is not equal now...that's why those awards exist.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Tom Swift, Jr - "It also points out the value of having a society where we welcome those who have something to contribute as opposed to one that builds fences and closes gates." Really ? ... How bout having a society where we welcome beneficial contributions from everyone, and reward everyone equitably ? ... When (we) specifically target immigrant scientists for an award, rather than all scientists, we are building fences and closing gates. Everyone, including immigrants, should be motivated to pursue such accomplishments on an equal playing field ... not one motivated by $, or other preferential factors, for one group and not the others.

C.C. Ingersoll

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

Scientific progress is actually predicated on the influence of new ideas coming in from outside a community or nation. People from different nations/geographical areas see problems in different ways and provide new perspectives. Without new perspectives provided by migration and trade science only advances through serendipity. See also; gunpowder, algebra, fluid dynamics, our English alphabet, any corporation forced into bringing in 'new ideas' to progress, etc. (I'm being overly-broad here on purpose)

Atlas Shrugged

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Does that sum up your point, Max? Sounds quite like communism, to me.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Why have different awards for different specialties? Why have awards for age groups, or men and women? Why don't we just have one award...for everything?? Each year, one person gets an award. Yeah, that sounds like an equal playing field at last!

Unusual Suspect

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Who doesn't already know about the scientific contribution of immigrants? Maybe it's a generational thing and kids don't learn about it anymore.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Kellie, why is this news? Good for him, but it seems like a fairly minor award.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 8:04 a.m.

Considering the professor already makes a 6 figure salary the financial part of the award does seem rather minor. But it is nice to be recognized for one's work.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Julia As Tom said when did YOU last receive ANY award? Cat got your tongue?

tom swift jr.

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Julia, when was your last $35,000 academic award? This doesn't seem "minor" to me at all. It also points out the value of having a society where we welcome those who have something to contribute as opposed to one that builds fences and closes gates.