We first interviewed Susan in 2016 when she was already an award-winning Syrian cartoonist with a PhD in virology from the University of Leuven. She has been working on scientific cartoons since the age of eight, pairing art and science in a way she hopes will make both disciplines more accessible.
My parents always wanted me to be a doctor,’ she told us. ‘So, I have become one with a mission not only to promote science but also to inject laughter into other people’s lives by making science more entertaining and – in a way – more passionate.’
Fast forward two years and Susan’s work is having an impact around the world. Her Virology Comics on Zika and flu help address the history of vaccination as well as addressing facts and misinformation.
She won the Innovation in Science Literacy Award in 2017, to add to her Science Hero award in 2015, and now adds a Vaccines Today Communication Challenge prize to her trophy cabinet. Susan designs teaching material for universities and companies, as well as speaking at conferences on science communication and women in science.
‘I am passionate about correcting misconceptions in science and medicine,’ she said. ‘In this regard, vaccines are the hottest topic! Plus, I am mainly interested in inspiring and educating kids about science who suffer the most from the anti-vaccination movement.’
Susan was pleased to hear she had been selected by the public and a panel of experts as a Vaccine Champion – something she thought unlikely when she entered. ‘As an immigrant woman from a developing country, winning was not expected at the start. My competitors are all native Europeans with strong social media influence. Therefore, winning after a tough competition like that was such amazing and heart-warming news!’
The future looks bright for Susan as she is collaborating with NGOs, governments and universities on new projects, while staying active on social media. Watch this space!