Egyptian Americans in the Bay Area- The Experts
Dr. Tarek K. Abdel Hamid 
He is an academic, a researcher, and a thinker. He is also an accomplished sailor, and has been – since age 10 – an avid aficionado of everything related to water sports.

Born in Cairo in 1950, Tarek K. Abdel Hamid graduated from the English School then went on to pursue a Bachelor Degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Cairo University. In 1974, he met his future wife, Nadia Mansour, while they were both preparing their Masters Degree at the American University in Cairo.
After dating for a year, Tarek finally popped the question: “Do you get sea sick?” he asked Nadia. When she said no, their fate was sealed and the duo married in 1975, only ten days before they flew to Boston where Tarek was to pursue a PhD in Information Systems at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1984 the couple moved to California where they both landed jobs at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park. But it wasn't until he accepted a teaching position at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey that Tarek seemed to have found his calling. He quickly earned tenure and became professor of Information Science and System Dynamics, a position he holds since 1987.

In appreciation of his work and his impressive list of publications, Tarek was presented in 1994 with the Jay Wright Forrester Award for best contribution to the field of System Dynamics during the preceding five years. He was also awarded the Naval Postgraduate School's Faculty Performance Award, in recognition of meritorious faculty performance in both research and teaching.

With no kids in tow, Tarek and Nadia devoted a large portion of their leisure time to sailing. Unlike most traditional couples, their American dream was fulfilled when they purchased their first 32 foot Saber, which they later upgraded to a traditional Alden 45 sloop.


(Above: Tarek & Nadia holding their trophy aboard their Alden 45)
It was aboard this 45 footer that they single handedly won the first prize of their division in the 1999 San Francisco to Santa Barbara Yacht Race (Cruise Division). “Tarek developed a software model for this race. He fed the program over ten years worth of data related to tides, currents, wind, shifts. He then used the results to optimize the route he charted for us. We sailed around the clock for 52 hours without sleep and I certainly would never do it again”, says Nadia with a smile, “but looking back now, it was an exhilarating experience and well worth the trouble.”
(Left: Tarek K. Abdel Hamid)

By the mid 1990s, Tarek became extremely interested in the confluence of information and medical technologies, and saw it as one of the most promising new frontiers for system dynamics research and public policy.
So, in 1997, he took an open-ended leave-of-absence and enrolled in the Master's Program at Stanford's Engineering Economic Systems & OR Department, where he focused on decision analysis and medical decision-making.  Returning to become a master student, while already holding a PhD was certainly a “weird” but fun experience—for him, as well as for his professor. It was during his studies at Stanford that he began to see the natural fit between the obesity problem (as a dynamic system of energy regulation) and system dynamics. Upon graduation, he spent a year (1999-2000) as an affiliate at Stanford’s Medical Informatics Department (part of Stanford’s Medical School), where he worked on developing system dynamics models of human physiology and metabolism.
In December 2001, he returned to his faculty position at the Naval Postgraduate School and started writing his latest book “Thinking in Circles about Obesity”, while continuing his research on medical decision making and modeling of human metabolism and energy regulation.
(Below: Tarek's New Book Cover - Click to enlarge)


With a name like his, finding a publisher in post 9/11 America was a challenge!  After almost a year, a profusion of blood, sweat and tears, and dozens of Federal Express packages sent out to various publishers, Tarek started semi-seriously considering changing his name to John Smith. Fortunately for the Egyptian-American community, he was able to secure a deal with Springer Publishing Company before going through with his plan, giving us the opportunity and the satisfaction to be proud of him, brag about him, and claim him to the world as one of ours.

Thinking in Circles About Obesity: Applying Systems Thinking to Weight Management will be available for sale through Amazon and other major book outlets on September 15, 2009.
Article by Magda Danish. Review by Nadia Mansour