I first arrived in Australia to pursue my degree in biomedical science in Brisbane in 2007 and made a decision to start my PhD four years later. At the time, I was looking forward to conducting research, publishing papers and going to international conferences. I had also planned to thoroughly enjoy the best of Brisbane and to keep exploring down under. I had plans of flying to Melbourne in the winter for skiing, shopping in Sydney, diving the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, and hopping over to visit the ‘Middle Earth’ in New Zealand. To say the least, I was full of optimism and anticipation when I left for a short holiday in Malaysia before starting my PhD in Australia. But fate had other things to offer.
Life as a Scientist
When I was working at CERN, the perennial question posed to me by friends and family was, “What is the use of fundamental research?” Despite my slight indignation over the seeming short-sightedness of the question, it is not difficult to see where people are coming from.
Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman is Malaysia’s first astrophysicist. She was the founding director of Angkasa, the Malaysian National Space Agency, and has played an instrumental role in sending our first Malaysian astronaut to space. She is currently serving as Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Deputy Director-General of the UN office in Vienna. In a recent interview with Scientific Malaysian, she provided us with a privileged insight into her work and passion for the space sciences.
In 2012, Tan Sri Prof Ong was given the Merdeka Award in recognition for his “outstanding contribution to the research and development of the chemistry and technology of palm oil and for his significant role in advocating and promoting Malaysian palm oil industry to the world”. To date, Tan Sri Prof Ong is still actively involved in scientific non-government organisations, including the Malaysian Invention and Design Society (MINDS), which he founded in 1986.
I met my main academic advisor, who was kind enough to drive over two hours from the university campus to pick me up. After collecting my luggage, he said “I think you should put on your coat. It’s kind of chilly outside.” Little did I know, that was the start of a life experience, which I will forever treasure.
A chemist by training, but an ‘engineer’ in practice – such is the description that the SciMy team would like to tag on Prof. Norita Mohamed. With a good grasp of chemistry fundamentals, the chemist in her sets out to solve problems that have plagued two sectors, namely the waste environment and the chemistry education system. In a recent interview with the SciMy team, Prof. Norita elaborates on her research at removing/recovering heavy metals from the environment, as well as her involvement in improving the teaching of chemistry at the secondary and tertiary levels. Interview by Dr. Hooi-Ling Lee and Dr. Valerie Soo.
Professor Meharvan Singh – fondly known as “Sonny” – is a Texas-based neuroscientist with family roots in Kuala Lumpur. He studies how hormones (such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) affect brain functions, and how these hormones, or the lack of them, influence brain aging as well as the vulnerability of the brain to neurodegenerative conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) and certain brain cancers (e.g. glioblastoma). After being invited to serve the SciMy Advisory Board, Sonny recently shared his thoughts on science (and life!) in our inaugural live web interview session on March 2, 2013. Interview by Dr. Valerie Soo.
Despite the massive media coverage of the Higgs boson discovery on 4 July 2012, it is probably fair to say that the process of “discovering” a new particle remains a mystery to most. As one of the 5000 physicists nominally involved in the result from the ATLAS and CMS experiments, Khoo Teng Jian hopes to offer some insight into the background behind the boson buzz – a look at the lives of experimental high energy physicists.