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Next-Gen researcher

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2009
Rebecca C. Jernigan, rebecca.jernigan@laurin.com

TOLEDO, Ohio – The life of the stereotypical 14-year-old girl revolves around friends, fashion and boys. However, Zainab Al-Firdaus is anything but typical. A sophomore at Perrysburg High School in Ohio, she is a co-author of a published scientific paper.

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Zainab Al-Firdaus and Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad work together in the laboratory.

Zainab worked on the research and the paper with her father, Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of Toledo, and his undergraduate intern Sara L. McKelvey. The trio researched the fabrication of nanofibers of titanium dioxide, a photocatalyst that has antimicrobial properties when activated, and wrote a paper titled “Fabrication of Antimicrobial Titania Nanofibers by Electrospinning,” which appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Advanced Materials, Manufacturing and Testing Information Analysis Center Quarterly, published by the US Department of Defense.

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Nanofibers of titanium dioxide.

Azad is a proponent of introducing and encouraging young women to the sciences and making them passionate about the field, especially in laboratory settings. He suggests that the best way to increase the number of women in the science is to start young, eliminating the belief that math and science are “scary” or too difficult and providing mentoring and encouragement at home and in school.

As for Zainab, she says that she has learned a lot from this experience. Working in the laboratory not only emphasized how time-consuming designing and performing experiments can be, but also showed her how science can affect, and be incorporated into, daily life.


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