10 Questions with Ayesha Azez
Ayesha Azez, 24, from Pakistan is a master student at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Pakistan.
She is working in the field of nanotechnology and is developing ZnO/CuO hierarchical nano-structures with high photo-catalytic activity.
Ayesha is a participant of the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting which is dedicated to the field of physics in 2016.
Enjoy the interview with Ayesha and get inspired:
- What inspired you to pursue a career in physics / STEM?
The idea that inspires me is Physics itself; the idea that Physics beautifully explores and attempts to explain every phenomenon from the quantum level to the cosmic level (from the very level of elementary particles to the level of massive black holes).
- Who are your role models?
My role models are the accomplished Physicists who have great contributions to Physics and the world like Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Abdus Salam. I’d also love to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson (I wish if he had already received the Nobel Prize by now so that I could meet him at Lindau).
- How did you get to where you are in your career path?
I belong to a mediocre family, so I faced financial problems for my studies. I really appreciate and give credit to my parents and brothers who supported my decision to study Physics and helped me succeed in every step.
- What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
It was a task given to us as an assignment. We had to make a machine that could be used for stirring the chemical solutions. We had to gather every small piece of it, ourselves. It was not a difficult thing to make if we could find everything at one place. But the problem given to us involved collecting even the smallest things like suitable resistors and capacitors ourselves. This was the most interesting part of it because all three of us were girls and in Pakistan it’s not very convenient for girls move around for such things. We had to go to even the smallest electronics workshop in city to buy things that we needed. Finally we could be able to make that machine with price that was one-third of its original price. It was fun doing the real time electronics and we learned a lot.
- What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?
Every moment when I could make my parents proud. In May, 2012 Chief Minister of Punjab (Pak) Shahbaz Sharif distributed laptops in thousands of students of Faisalabad under Youth Initiative Program. I have this honor to be in few of those students who received their laptop form the Chief Minister himself on stage.
Another such moment is when I was selected for the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. It was such an honor to be selected first among 10 students of the country and then in 3 students finally selected by Lindau council.
- What is a “day in the life” of Ayesha like?
I wake up early to help my mother do some household chores and go to the university at about 9am. As this is my last semester of MPhil, I am not taking any course but focusing on my research work and thesis writing. Some days involve more practical work such as preparing samples while some days are spent researching on my laptop for my thesis or research paper and reading stuff to fully understand my results. Sometimes, I don’t get the desired result and I have to search out the reason behind that variation. Some days my supervisor attached me with junior students to help them in their practical and theoretical work. Some days, I have to attend seminars and workshops organized by the department. With such divergent routine work, it’s difficult to come up with “a day in life” but I like my routine this way and as I have come across something new to learn every time, I don’t want to do the same things every day. I get back from the university around 3pm (but if I’m performing practical work, it usually takes a little longer) and spend the rest of the day with my family.
- What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?
I am looking forward to do PhD and would love to work as a scientist. It is my dream to work at particle accelerators. I really want to give my part of efforts in scientific world whether understanding it and satisfying human curiosity or doing something big for the world.
- What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?
My second favorite subject is computer and when I’m not doing Physics I like to learn things about computer such as programming languages and different software. I also like to take different online courses offered by various universities when I’m free. Furthermore, I like to read books, watch movies (mostly science fiction and action), watch videos of my favorite scientists and spend time with my family.
- What advice do you have for other women interested in physics / STEM?
First, I would encourage every woman to come forward and study Physics as this would not only make you a worthy person in the world but also would open your eyes toward the universe. In the beginning, it might be difficult to proceed but once you are on the right path, the hurdles would get fade and go away.
I want to advice to all the women students especially in my home country (Pakistan) that if it is difficult for you to go and spend time out in libraries, science laboratories, meeting with mentors and teachers, the internet is a big source of information nowadays. If there is anything about Physics (or any other subject) that you’re having trouble understanding, there are lots of online courses, videos, books and reference material available online from which you can learn a lot. You can groom your knowledge and stay up-to-date about Physics/Science using this free source even staying at home.
- In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in physics research?
As the Gravitational waves has been discovered recently, which is a great step forward in understanding many phenomena in Physics. In my opinion, the next great breakthrough would be the unification of all forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong and weak force) into the so called theory of everything. This will help understanding the precise nature and relation of gravity with other forces.
What should be done to increase the number of female profs of physics?
I believe the trend has already been changed now, as more women are studying to the master level. This is because women now know that they are intelligent and can perform equally well in their studies and research like men. Although, still in the developing countries, awareness campaigns need to run for parents and peopel at grass-roots level about the importance of women education. I also believe there should be more scholarships for women to do PhD’s to increase the number of women profs, women scientist and women Nobel Laureates in Physics/Science.