Gravitational waves researcher becomes 'Youth Icon'

Issued: Fri, 13 May 2016 09:18:00 BST

A UofG PhD researcher has become the “Youth Icon” of Malaysia in recognition of her contribution to Gravitational Waves research.

Hafizah Noor Isa, 29, received the highly prestigious award at the weekend from the Prime Minister of her home country, Najib Razak, at a conferral ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

Hafizah Noor Isa

In February, it was announced to the world that for the first time that the scientists of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration had observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This discovery confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opened an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

The gravitational waves were detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, based in the USA. The international team of scientists involved included a team from the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research who led on the development, of the sensitive mirror suspensions implemented in the heart of the LIGO detectors.Gravitational Waves 450

Hafizah is studying the properties of the mirror-coatings of the laser interferometers with the aim of finding ways to make them even more sensitive in the future. She is a member of two research groups - the Materials and Condensed Matter Physics (MCMP) Group and the Institute of Gravitational Research (IGR).

The Youth Icon award is given by the Government of Malaysia in recognition of achievements but also to encourage other young people to follow in the footsteps of awardees.

Hafizah said: “The award is really overwhelming and it is going to give me the motivation to be a better person. I hope that by giving me this award it will attract more young people to come into the field of science.”

Professor Sheila Rowan, co-supervisor of Hafizah and Director of the University’s Institute for Gravitational Research, described the Youth Icon award as “terrific”, adding: “It recognises the importance of science and the importance of young people in science because they are the people who are going be go out and change our world.”


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