Meet Dr Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim, a M’sian scientist who worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She was the first M’sian NASA scientist to launch a NASA satellite into space back in 2014.
Dr Wan Wardatul Amani was just 36 years old when she co-launched the NASA satellite!
Dr Wan Wardatul Amani led a team of 28 that comprised of scientists, technologists and engineers to work on NASA’s first-ever astrobiology programme. The programme aimed to test how living cells would respond to a lack of gravity.
Eventually, the project led by her was launched as a nano-satellite together with a SpaceX rocket as a part of NASA’s Journey to Mars mission.
However, she decided to return home and serve for the country
Regardless of her position who broke the norm in a field that is mostly male-dominated, Dr Wan Wardatul Amani decided to come back to Malaysia. She wanted something more than staying with NASA. Dr Wan Wardatul Amani said that she wanted to solve the problems back home.
In 2014, she relocated back to Malaysia and has since shifted her focus from satellites to inventing simple devices for local communities. Among her inventions is a simple sensor device that enables users to test water samples. The sensor device can detect the presence of any harmful bacteria and surprisingly, it is very useful in flood conditions.
“It’s not that I wasn’t solving problems in the US, but there are already so many people solving problems there. When I looked at the context of Malaysia, I saw that I could solve this and solve that.”
Furthermore, she and her dedicated team are working on building a re-useable, affordable and non-invasive device to monitor blood glucose.
Her journey as a NASA scientist started with becoming a volunteer in laboratories
Dr Wan Wardatul Amani was an electrical engineering student at the University of Minnesota, USA. She volunteered her spare time working in laboratories to learn more. Her first job was just washing glass slides and coverslips for microscopes. However, they started paying her because she did the work so well and giving her opportunities to the level that the professor recommended her to do a PhD in biomedicine.
“Give people the chance and empowerment to do great things,”
For Dr Wan Wardatul Amani, she believes there is no age requirement or background requirement nor a race or religion background for someone to do great things. She believes that when given the chance and empowerment from people in your team, people can do great wonders.
“If my boss at Purdue University had treated me as just a young lecturer, I would not have been able to perform as well as I did in the Nasa project. She currently teaches and researches at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).