Co-sponsored by the Islamic Student Association. Recently retired as director of the Conservation Education program of the U.S. Forest Service, Dr. Safiya Samman led an active and wide-ranging program that reaches more than four million children and their educators each year. Although she has held various challenging professional positions, a strong thread of education is woven throughout her 30+ year career.
Dr. Samman received her Ph.D. in genetics, and has worked in the natural resources field for more than 30 years. A focus of her work has been on improving and protecting forest health through genetic principles. As a member of the Pacific Southwest genetic resources program, she was responsible for the development and management of disease resistance breeding and gene conservation strategies for the five-needle pines in California. She is proud to be a pioneer member of the “rust-busters” – a handful of scientists who worked on developing tree resistance to exotic disease white pine blister rust. She also worked on other conifer diseases such as pitch canker.
Dr. Samman is an active member of the Muslim communities wherever she resides. Her Islamic education started as a young girl in Lebanon, where she studied with a female scholar in an after-school program. She later studied for more than 10 years in California and then in Fairfax, Virginia, for several years at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America. Dr. Samman has participated in workshops with Shiekh Hamza Yusuf and Jamal Badawi. She started the Islamic weekend school in the Sacramento area, which was the beginning of an accredited full-time school in Sacramento. In Virginia, from 1998-present, she started Islamic studies and Quran recitation, tajweed, meaning and lessons learned for sisters and their young daughters.