10 Questions with Zaynah Dhunny
Zaynah Dhunny, 28, from Mauritius is a Ph.D. student at the University of Mauritius in Mauritius.
She is working in the field of Wind Modelling. She has used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and modeled her island and near-shore areas for wind farming.
Zaynah is a participant of the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting which is dedicated to the field of physics in 2016.
Enjoy the interview with Zaynah and get inspired:
- What inspired you to pursue a career in physics / STEM?
In my childhood I always wanted to become a teacher in order to share my knowledge with other people. At secondary school I enjoyed math and physics, because I loved to solve some tricky problems. Therefore that time thinking about the future career I had two options in my mind. The first was to become a school teacher and the second was to become a scientist, who faces new unsolved problems and simultaneously can teach students. I chose the second path and do not regret about it.
- Who are your role models?
It is Albert Einstein and Professor Steven Chu.
- How did you get to where you are in your career path?
Hard work, sleepless nights, high motivation and great passion brought me where I am right now in my career path. Since a child, I was categorized as intelligent and intuitive. Born in a middle class family, my parents always told me if I want to achieve something in life, I need to work for it. My mother was my first mentor who guided me and cared for my education and replied to my millions of inquisitive questions.
I got married early; at 18 years old, had one child at 19 and another at 23. But continued with my education BSC, MPhil and PhD. It was not easy trust me, but with motivation great heights can be reached.
I had my PhD supervisor Dr Roddy Lollchund who is my second mentor; a perfectionist, he always guided me in each step of my research.
I realized early one that nothing but hard work can help me. Passionate about research nothing could stop me, not even sleepless nights of my new born (Laugh).
- What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I worked is on Applied Physics Micro Electronics. I build and designed a system using the chip Dspic, whereby sonic zones were commanded and I could measure the depth of materials with the returned echo of the sonic anemometers.
- What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?
Each time a paper is accepted in a journal I feel overjoyed and proud of my work.
- What is a “day in the life” of Zaynah like?
Well a day in my life is as follows:
Morning a cup of tea, check my emails. Start working on my models of wind data; break a cup of tea and dress the kids for school. Then i do a little search in my research field to keep up to date with which new updates recently ( this i do at least twice per week). After wards i immerse myself in my research until my stomach growls. While eating i like to read a good James Pattersen or Harlan Coben thriller.. Afterwards I continue with my research until the kids come back home. I check the home work of elder son and make him revise. My time is spent with the kids and the hubby until night time. And after the house is quite, all my guys sleeping, i continue with my research until around 2 am and I hit the bed. This is a typical day in my life. If I need to go University to meet with my supervisors, or to the lab or on field then after breakfast I go and come in afternoon, then I continue with my research at home.
- What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?
I want to do further research in clean energy and contribute to the society. My aim is to see my island a green place. I also want to work in different projects of Applied Physics.
- What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?
When I am not doing research which is a full time job, I like to go the beach and swim for hours in the clean Turquoise Indian Ocean. Go on long drive with hubby and the kids and listen to old romantic songs. And I read a lot.
- What advice do you have for other women interested in physics / STEM?
Well, I would like to say that being a mother, wife and researcher is compatible hehehe. To pursue a career in Physics is hard but rewarding and enlightening. I advice women that never let any thing come between them and their research. If they have motivation, then nothing can stop them from going far.
- In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in physics research?
I think it will be proof of existence of higher dimensions.
What should be done to increase the number of female profs of physics?
I think there should be encouragement at a young age (High school); I also think it can only be done if the female themselves have motivation. Without motivation, nothing great can be achieved; be it for male or female.