Have you heard of this little thing called The Islamic Golden Age? Of course, you have! It was only a several-hundred-year stretch where the Islamic world made historic strides and ground-breaking discoveries in fields of science and medicine.
The reason we’re bringing this up is not to fondly remember the past, but to emphasise how Muslims scientists have a centuries-long history of crushing it that continues to this day. As 24 January marks the International Day of Education, we thought this would be the perfect time to introduce you to some Muslim scientists whose own work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) could be remembered for generations to come.
Dr Burcin Mutlu-Pakdil
Dr Burcin Mutlu-Pakdil is an astrophysicist with a galaxy named after her. That’s right, Burcin’s Galaxy is so named after she discovered the rare double ringed elliptical galaxy during her doctoral research at the University of Minnesota. Dr Mutlu-Pakdil is now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona, where she studies the structure and dynamics of astrophysical objects and co-chairs a Women in Astronomy group.
As a female Muslim immigrant from Turkey working in a male-dominated field, Dr Mutlu-Pakdil has spearheaded high school initiatives that encourage women to pursue STEM subjects.
Noha Hosny is an Egyptian scientist who conducts research in analytical chemistry, electrochemistry and environmental chemistry. After working as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Pharmaceutical Analytical Chemistry, Assiut University, Egypt, she was appointed as an honorary research assistant at De Montfort University in Leicester.
Her work has focused extensively on the analysis of certain drugs used in the treatment of gout, and previous research looked at non-sedating antihistamines—so good stuff all around for anyone with allergies and/or an expensive foie gras habit.
Sultan Bin Bader
In February 2018, Sultan Bin Bader snagged the UAE Young Scientist Award at The National Science, Technology and Innovation Festival for his Emergency Robot. The self-controlled robot can be dispatched in emergency situations to assist with, among other things, firefighting, tire inflating, mobile phone charging and first aid. The robot is also fitted with cameras to allow people to assess a situation from a safe distance.
“I was looking for an idea that will help save lives and make a difference,” the high school student said after winning. “I managed to achieve this by creating the emergency robot, which offers 12 services for visitors in public places.”
Dr Witri Wahyu Lestari
Dr Witri Wahyu Lestari is an Indonesian scientist whose work focuses on developing the catalysts needed to obtain more environmentally-friendly fuels. After achieving a PhD in chemistry at the University of Leipzig in 2014, Dr Witri Lestari returned to Sebelas Maret University, Indonesia, to research green diesel—a fuel produced from non-fossil renewable sources like palm oil.
In an interview with Asian Scientist last year, she explained her goals for the future:
“I hope that my research will change society for the better and make an international impact, especially in the areas of environmental sustainability, alternative energy sources and biomedicine….I have ambitions to one day receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.”