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Introduction

I wrote this book with two purposes in mind: to serve as an autobiography of my career over the years and to share my research experience with other researchers. My memoirs include many life experiences and history of my country of origin, Baghdad, Iraq, as well as descriptions of the political upheavals in that part of the world.

In middle school and high school I learned from American Jesuit Fathers who established Baghdad College near the Tigris River. I then went to college in Istanbul, Turkey, and earned a degree in astronomy. I learned much about Turkish culture during college.

After school I returned to Baghdad and taught at the University of Baghdad. While in Baghdad, I had the opportunity to make several appearances on the Baghdad Television Science for All program, talking about astronomy and space science.

I then pursued my lifetime dream of immigrating to the United States and pursuing my PhD degree. After that I was involved in major NASA missions, such as Pioneer 10 and 11, Skylab, space shuttle Columbia, the International Space Station’s Gas-Grain Simulation Facility, and more.

I was also involved in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), commonly called “Star Wars.” I performed a total solar eclipse experiment and helped launch the first rocket in Mexico’s history. I conducted a rocket experiment launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and designed laser body armor for the US military.

I also spent three decades doing research in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. My research was primarily in the field of the solar system, with some other spin-off research. Part of this book is a series of chronicled topics on what I think is the best approach in

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doing research based on my long experience. I explore the unique way of pursuing research in the United States, with emphasis on how to conduct research in a successful manner. I also emphasize the importance of carrying out research on so-called soft-money, which on many occasions makes you more competitive and successful. I reveal the necessary factors that go into acquiring funding for your research ideas and explain the criteria of writing a successful proposal to land you a research grant. I also include some of my political views and my scientific outlook for the future.