This photograph was taken within the mountains of Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan. I’m extracting rock samples that may assist us to know what life appeared like right here simply after the dinosaurs went extinct, greater than 65 million years in the past. For me, that is extra than simply analysis: it’s additionally a option to defy the Islamist terrorist group ISIS, whose members tried to kill me. I’m proud to be right here doing this; the pursuit of information is my approach of resisting ISIS’s extremism.
In 2008, I used to be finding out for my grasp’s diploma on the College of Mosul in Iraq. Town was an ISIS stronghold even earlier than the group formally took over. ISIS members heard that I had made buddies with some ladies. They didn’t like that and despatched dying threats, culminating in an assassination try: they put a bomb exterior my home. I used to be critically damage; I used to be in hospital for 4 months and healed at dwelling for one more 9.
The assault made me extra decided than ever to hold on with science. I earned my PhD in 2022 and have become a geologist on the College of Duhok.
I spent my PhD scouring the Duhok countryside for an uninterrupted cross part of rock layers that spans a number of geological ages, from the time earlier than dinosaurs’ extinction, via the extinction occasion itself and into the time when life rebounded, a minimum of 30,000 years later.
In 2020, I made an necessary discovery in Duhok: a 30-metre cross part containing totally different layers. I analysed it, however have restricted laboratory tools, so I despatched samples to colleagues in Italy for chemical-isotope testing to this point the rock layers.
We confirmed that the cross part does span the time-frame I’m concerned with. That is the primary such discovery in Iraq and gives a glimpse of how the dinosaurs’ extinction performed out right here. Embedded within the rock, for instance, are fossilized microorganisms, whose relative abundance permits scientists to infer which life types existed then.
This discovery is my revenge towards those that tried to cease me.