HomeNewsMarried couple obtains doctoral degree from same professor on same day

Married couple obtains doctoral degree from same professor on same day

On 6 November 2014, a married couple from Pakistan will obtain their doctoral degree at the University of Twente, from the same professor, on the same day. Over the past five years, Salma Anwar and Muhammad Yaseen have conducted research at the faculty of ITC in the area of spatial statistics. They obtained their Master's degree and then both started working as doctoral degree candidates in the same department. They had three children during this period. 

A married couple obtaining their doctoral degree on the same day is a rare phenomenon. But also with the same professor, which is extremely rare. Salma Anwar: “I feel privileged that we were both allowed to study and obtain our doctoral degree at the University of Twente.  We were supposed to go to two different Universities, but when I got pregnant, we wanted to study together in order to combine our studies with family live. Our first child was born after two months' study. Our second child was born even before we obtained our Master's degree. Nevertheless, we still obtained our MSc in time. We had our third child during the PhD. Combining research and work with having three children was hard, but we have always been facilitated and supported in this. People envied us because we were studying and working at the same place.”

Alfred Stein, professor of Earth Observation Science and thesis supervisor of the married couple: “It was special to supervise the married couple. They came to this university with an HEC scholarship for five years, of which one and a half years MSc and three and a half years PhD. I admire them for having been able to concentrate so well in spite of the birth of their three children.” Muhammad Yaseen: “It was a unique experience for us to be allowed to study and work in the Netherlands. Study programmes are highly structured and modern and society is more peaceful and quieter than in Pakistan. People are generally very helpful and straightforward.”

Research by Salma Anwar
Anwar conducted research into the methods applicable to land use and land change by two totally different factors: deforestation and earthquakes. She studied the earthquake in Kashmir (2005) in Pakistan, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. This was mostly due to the aftershocks. Anwar conducted research into the spatial pattern of aftershocks and the effects and the location of faults and visible patterns in the landscape. Stein: “By modelling this, we are better able to predict the locations of aftershocks after major earthquakes caused by colliding continental plates.” The second part of her doctoral research focussed on deforestation. She used new models and analysis methods and compared data throughout the years. This showed that the construction of roads generally results in deforestation: deforestation expands from roads into forests.

Research by Muhammad Yaseen
Yaseen conducted research into methods used to assess earthquakes. He mostly focussed on the earthquake in Bam in Iran (2003), which destroyed the entire city. He used spatial statistics and satellite images in order to find a fault in the earth's surface, in spite of all the ruins. By combining various images, a technique that used to be impossible, Yaseen managed to find a fault.  

Salma Anwar will obtain her doctoral degree on 6 November 2014 at 2.45 pm at the faculty of ITC of the University of Twente. Muhammad Yaseen will obtain his doctoral degree on the same day at 4:45 pm.

Note for the press
You are very welcome to attend the couple's doctoral degree defences and ceremonies. To register your attendance, for more information or interview requests, please contact press officer Kim Hovestad, 0622436275.