December 15, 2018
A Sudanese scientist is hoping to change the way people think about physics.
Fatema Ahmed, a 2016 fellow from Sudan, is currently completing a full-time fellowship at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, where she is pursuing her PhD in physics. Read about why she was drawn to this field, and how she is changing perspectives about what physicists do, below.
How did you learn about the OWSD fellowship, and what difference has it made to your career?
During my undergraduate studies and later while I was teaching physics after graduation, I recognized that I had a deep interest in experimental physics. I started to build my knowledge of the applications of nanomaterials physics in photovoltaics technology, which is an emerging field of science. I began to look for scholarships or research grants to help me start my postgraduate studies. I learned about the OWSD fellowship during my participation in the workshop for Women in Physics which took place in 2015 at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy. I was very happy to learn about OWSD's strong support for women in science, even before applying for the fellowship. OWSD has allowed me to explore the field of experimental physics, an idea I had dreamed about for a long time but had never imagined could happen. OWSD has also helped me to realize my strengths and abilities in this field.
What are you researching? What first made you interested in this subject?
I am researching the synthesis and development of new nanomaterials that can be used in solar cell technology. The need for renewable energy, especially solar energy, is one of the most critical subjects of research in the world today. The big challenge related to this technology is the availability of the materials, and so I decided to focus on this area of research, especially when I learned about the big role that physics plays in this area.
Has anything surprised you about your research experience?
A lot of things have surprised me throughout this journey, but the best surprise is that so many people have been interested in my research and have told me that I gave them a different picture of physics from the one they had (a hard subject full of theoretical calculations). They have even started to tell me to be proud about my position as a female researcher in physics.
What are your plans for the future? What will you do after you complete your PhD?
I really want to start doing research in the industrial sector, which I believe can have the most influence in helping to advance the economies of developing countries. Besides that, I would like to continue my journey in teaching, to support women physicists and help them to recognize their talent in this field.
THANK YOU, FATEMA!