“To be honest, I am not quite sure what my ambition was when I was young. But what I am certain of was that I want to do something important for myself and the country. And now, being able to identify myself as a particle physicist working at Universiti Malaya; is quite an achievement, I must say,” said this cheerful Kelantanese when met in her laboratory recently.
Apart from conducting her own PhD research, Nurul Hidayah is a research officer who is in charge of, not one, but three research centres at UM, namely the National Centre for Particle Physics (NCPP), the Low Dimensional Material Research Centre (LDMRC), and the Centre for Printable Electronics (CPE). From grant applications to managing research interns, her hands are quite full in managing these centres on daily basis.
But that did not stop this nasi dagang lover from continuing her real passion: doing research in the area of high energy physics (HEP). “I work on developing detector material for HEP applications, including simulation and synthesis of 2D materials such as graphene.
“I really enjoyed working on the area, knowing that there is a vast potential for the applications in developing various highly accurate detectors and sensors in the future. My motivation went overdrive when given the opportunity for research attachment at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland for 3 months in 2019,” beamed Nurul Hidayah.
When asked on tips to be shared with other aspiring scientists, this microelectronics engineering graduate said: “Never be afraid to explore. Even though particle physics has been dominated by male scientists, from the likes of Niels Bohr to Peter Higgs to Stephen Hawking, there are still ample opportunities for everyone to contribute. Equip yourself with some technical skills, and fill the rest with the right amount of one secret ingredient: unlimited curiosity.”
Send her an email at email@example.com if you would like to drop by her laboratory to see how a real scientist conduct her work. It would be great if you could bring along a serving of cold mango juice to be shared, ya?