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.