[Image above] Adli Bishay, professor emeritus of American University in Cairo, Egypt. Credit: Screenshot from Friends of Environment and Development Association
The international glass community has lost one of its luminaries—Adli Bishay, professor emeritus at American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt.
Richard Brow, former ACerS president, says in an email, “Egyptian institutions have a reputation for high quality glass research, and I think that much of that reputation is due to the influence of Prof. Bishay.”
Bishay earned his B.S. from Cairo University in 1949; a Ph.D. from Sheffield University, U.K., in 1955; and a D.Sc., also from Sheffield, in 1969. He joined AUC in the Sciences Department and later started its Materials Engineering Department and AUC’s solid state science program.
Besides conducting glass research, which earned him a reputation as “one of the great, internationally renowned glass scientists,” according to Brow, Bishay was ahead of his time in terms of progressive thinking about holistic approaches to science and engineering and ideas we hear a lot about today, such as sustainability and renewable energy.
The trigger for embracing such forward-looking ideas came from Egypt’s then-president Anwar Sadat’s “Going to the Desert” challenge. In response to the challenge, Bishay founded the AUC Desert Development Center in 1979. The Center’s mission is to “improve the social and economic well-being of new desert settlers, through the use of research, training, and related activities that integrate among agriculture, renewable energy, and community aspects in order to achieve sustainability through increased productivity, profitability, diversity of output, and conservation of natural resources.”
Later, Bishay founded a nongovernmental organization—Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA)—to implement sustainable development projects in Egypt’s fragile ecosystems.
I didn’t have the honor of knowing Bishay, but I got a small glimpse into his philosophy of life and the forwardness of his thinking through a speech he gave in 2009 at the opening of the Third Advanced International Colliquium on Building the Scientific Mind. In the speech (pdf), he describes his holistic approach to founding the Center, “… my approach to scientific thinking developed to the ‘Holistic Approach:’ covering agriculture, socio-economics, environment, technology, and renewable energy.”
In the speech’s conclusion, Bishay reveals his motivation for founding FEDA: “…we need more than ever to build the scientific mind of our children, and to use the scientific mind of our professionals and encourage them to work together to secure a home in our universe. “
Funeral services were held on Nov. 8, 2015, in Cairo. A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. at the AUC Tahrir Campus. For more information contact Salah Arafa.