Alumni: Tamara Gjorgjieva

Post-graduate research fellow and NYU Abu Dhabi Alumni Tamara Gjorgjieva started out as a chemistry major undergraduate, and has found an ongoing path with NYU Abu Dhabi through genetics and the University’s extracurricular programs. She shares her story. 

I am originally from Macedonia, where I went to a public high school and did the International Baccalaureate.

I was really thinking about the types of universities I wanted to apply to and was keen to study abroad. Someone came to talk to us about NYU Abu Dhabi, and it was the one school where there didn’t need to be a single trade off, it seemed like it had it all: a liberal arts education, a global and diverse student body, the idea of learning outside of the classroom, plus financial aid. On the candidate’s weekend I felt that this kind of education was going to set me up for the rest of my life. 

I started out as a chemistry major.

Every life science major has to study the foundations of science so through the first three semesters I also studied physics and biology. These courses opened my eyes to interdisciplinary science, and I realized I just needed to decide which discipline I saw myself approaching science through. I switched to become a biology major. We had built a genotyping project of people on campus and I fell in love with genetics — it bridged together everything that had captured my interest up to that point.

I graduated in May 2019 and stayed for two months over the summer on a post-graduate practical training program as a research assistant.

It’s given me the opportunity to work on a continuation of my final year Capstone research project and to get a paper written, and hopefully published. I was also heavily involved with student affairs. I was part of Student Government for two and a half years, and I was President in my senior year. I was also a competitive debater and represented NYU Abu Dhabi at a lot of international tournaments. I think exposure to such a broad range of extracurricular activities really showed me the world beyond my science degree.

As a person who never considered anything beyond science, it really showed me how my skill set goes beyond the sciences.

I realized that, while I’m very interested in science, I’m far more passionate about the ethical and consequential legal questions that surround genetic technology more than I am in being the researcher who’ll put those technologies in place.

I’ve returned to NYU Abu Dhabi as a post-graduate research fellow.

The fellowship is given to eight graduating seniors for independent research projects under faculty mentorship. My fellowship sits between the biology and legal studies programs — at one end I’ll be working on the UAE Healthy Future study, the first prospective cohort study to determine genetic risk factors for prevalent disease in the Emirati population. At the other end, I will be studying bioethics and UAE law. Specifically, I will be looking at how to translate genetic regulations from secular societies — such as the US and Western Europe — into an Islamic context of bioethics. My goal is to generate a legislative proposal for regulating genetic practices in the UAE in the future. 


Coming here has proved to be the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m biased of course, but I don’t think anywhere else could have offered me this kind of multidisciplinary, holistic and exciting education.

Tamara Gjorgjieva

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