Heba Ali

Degree: Ph.D. in Biological Sciences

College: College of Arts, Sciences & Education, School of Environment, Arts and Society

Heba Ali is an ambitious, determined mother of three who never gives up on her dreams.  

Born and raised in Egypt, Heba graduated at the top of her class at Assiut University and was named assistant lecturer in the department of zoology and entomology.  

In 2013, she moved to the U.S. to continue her academic journey at Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating with a master’s degree in biology, she left quiet and cold Virginia for vibrant, warm Miami.  

At FIU, Heba discovered the joy of Cuban coffee — her favorite is Café Bustelo — and more importantly, she says she found herself.  

Under the guidance of FIU Professor Phillip Stoddard, Heba conducted research on how animals prioritize their energy usage by studying electric fish. She found the males sacrifice energy to produce electric signals, used for both mating and communication, at the expense of other important functions, like their immune system.  

She’s published her research in four scientific journals and presented at several conferences, as well as at FIU’s 3 Minute Thesis competition.   

Although her journey has been overwhelming at times, Heba found strength whenever she thought about her mother in Egypt, who as a professor of pharmacology also had to juggle a demanding career while raising children.   

Heba is also passionate about mentoring other students, especially women pursuing STEM careers. She’s served on the Graduate Student Advisory Board and as a representative for the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, where she gave guidance to graduate students teaching classes for the first time. In recognition for her work, she received a diversity and inclusion award from the International Society for Neuroethology. 

After graduation, Heba dreams of becoming a professor and continuing her research.  

By Angela Nicoletti 
Account Manager 
College of Arts, Sciences & Education