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Rhodes Scholar Profile: Munib Mesinovic

Munib Mesinovic, a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, hopes to use his degree at the University of Oxford to develop revolutionary healthcare technologies.

Dec 7, 2019

Munib Mesinovic, Class of 2020, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, majoring in Electrical Engineering was named as one of the two 2020 United Arab Emirates Rhodes Scholars. Mesinovic plans to pursue a Masters of Science in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. He is also the first ever Bosnian citizen to be awarded the scholarship and the 14th Rhodes Scholar produced by NYU Abu Dhabi in just under seven years. Awarded alongside him was Abdulla Al Hashmi, Class of 2020, from the UAE, majoring in Economics and Philosophy.
Mesinovic plans to utilize his graduate studies in pursuit of building wearable devices coupled with artificial intelligence to predict diseases. Influenced by the work of previous Rhodes Scholars, Mesinovic was inspired to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship because of the opportunity for social impact and the prospect of unlocking a wide and prestigious alumni network through the scholarship.
“Eric Lander, for example, did his Rhodes in Mathematics but went onto do seminal work in human biology, and he created what was called the Human Genome Project,” said Mesinovic.
He stated that the opportunity to connect with alumni whose passions and interests align with his own was one of the allures of the scholarship.
“[Lander] was a huge inspiration to me because he bridged the gap between biology and genetics and very quantitative science like Mathematics.”
Mesinovic has spent much of his undergraduate career exploring the intersection between biology and community impact. His capstone, or final thesis, is focused on predicting heart attacks. According to Mesinovic, the 60 minutes preceding the beginning of a heart attack are essential to the survival of the patient and his capstone attempts respond to this. He aspires to work with societies, foundations and governmental entities, and use their existing healthcare data in collaboration with artificial intelligence technology to develop revolutionary healthcare assistive technologies to service what he perceives as a current gap in the consumer healthcare market.
"Our body creates tremendous amounts of data every second that mostly go to waste and employing that resource for our own benefit is at the core of my career ambitions,” explained Mesinovic.
An excerpt from his application essay also relays his sentiments and hopes for helping people of determination through the development of AI technology.
“I realized that a person in a wheelchair exhibits a disability when facing stairs because we, as a society, had biasedly engineered stairs instead of ramps. We can transcend the social model of disabilities by using technology, but those technologies need to be developed considering disabilities,” he wrote.
On preparing for the rigorous application process, Mesinovic cited the importance of beginning early as well as self-reflection in the process of writing the application. He emphasised the benefits of the application process itself to students who are uncertain of their passion, concentration of major and career direction.
“I went in with the mindset that I probably would not be successful and just really tried to look deep into myself. With my work now, a lot of it came from my subconscious,” said Mesinovic.
He delved into his childhood and early education in Bosnia, explaining the influence of a teacher who passed away from a heart attack two months after Mesinovic’s primary school graduation.
“He was really the one who instilled in me the principle of community and social impact. In class, we had students [of determination] and interacting with them influenced me although I didn’t know it at the time,” he said.
Mesinovic advised students to shift their focus from winning prestigious awards and grants to focusing on themselves through exploration and self-reflection: “What’s important is knowing what you truly are passionate about, then finding a postgraduate program that fits and reflects those interests.”
Mesinovic also credited his time at NYUAD for allowing him to appreciate and develop his passions outside of his main concentration.
“The liberal arts curriculum allowed me to dabble in biology and also allowed me to think of my work as more complex and eclectic rather than just an input-output fulfilment of criteria,” stated Mesinovic.
This development of passion and complexity, Mesinovic believes, is a result of the core curriculum structure at NYUAD. He took a colloquium class called “Privacy in a Digital Society” by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Christina Pöpper, which exposed him to conflicts and debates surrounding AI ethics and technological regulation and eventually influenced his capstone and graduate studies.
“You get to understand why your work is important in different ways through understanding different contexts of society. I also think the curriculum fosters uniquely critical thinking through analyzing the arts, sciences and history which makes you a better young adult in the world today,” explained Mesinovic.
On his fears for the future, Mesinovic stated that being selected evokes an immense sense of responsibility: “As the first Bosnian represented as a Rhodes Scholar, I do feel that I sort of carry the torch for a lot of these firsts. In that way, it is not a burden so much as a responsibility and an honor. It drives me upwards rather than downwards.”
Ming Ee Tham is Deputy News Editor. Email her at
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