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September 30, 2019

A scientist’s journey from Balochistan to Cambridge


September 30, 2019

Dr Yarjan Samad. Photo Geo News

LONDON: A Pakistani scientist from a poor area of Balochistan is making waves at Cambridge University’s Cambridge Graphene Centre with his innovation skills and knowledge of science.

Dr Yarjan Samad, aged 34, was born in Buleda, a remote area of Balochistan, to a working class family. His father never went to school but was determined to inspire his children to work hard and improve and his children responded with the same determination.

Now a senior research scientist and a teaching fellow at the prestigious Cambridge University, Dr Yarjan Samad’s story speaks of resilience and determination of how a boy from an ordinary background worked hard and became a successful scientist.

He studied at a public school of Buleda and a couple of small schools in Lyari for initial years. He finished his intermediate from the DJ Science College and went to Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute for graduation in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering. He received his first break when he got a scholarship from Abu Dhabi for both masters and PhD. He was able to do research work at several prestigious institutions of the world during his masters and PhD.

Photos by author.

Dr Samad joined Cambridge University as a scientist in 2016, right after his PhD and later on was promoted to a position of Senior Research Scientist and Teaching Fellow.

Since then Dr Samad has worked on Graphene for Space Applications along with other scientists from UK, Belgium and Italy and in collaboration with Leonardo, NoveSpace and European Space Agency.

In a detailed interview with Geo News, Dr Yarjan Samad credited his parents for his success. “My parents were determined for our education and did everything for us. My teachers, mentors and friends have a big role in my making and I am thankful to all of them.”

Dr Samad explained that his main in Cambridge is on “materials”. He said, “We work on the materials and devices which are used in projects cooling in space.” About the upcoming projects, he said that he’s working with fellow scientists to make enabling materials and sensors to understand tissue repair and wound healing in space, water splitting on the surface of moon into hydrogen and oxygen so that oxygen is used for breathing and hydrogen is used as a fuel for further explorations from there onwards.

As a Pakistani working with elite scientists, Dr Samad feels proud as a Pakistani and believes that his background and the grit defines his character and work. He told Geo News, “It feels great when people recognise me as a Pakistani, that’s who I am. People see you and recognise your face when they work with you. I see their thinking about Pakistan changes a lot after we hold conversations. There is a sense of responsibility on you in such a position that you have to be an ambassador of your country and your culture. This sense motivates you to do your best.”

The scientist regretted that Pakistan lags far behind other countries in scientific research and innovation. “If we look at the human resource and talent and how to utilise it, Pakistan be ahead of developed countries but our research organisations and institutions are not working the way they should be working. It’s a long list of what the reasons for that are but what’s important is that how to get the things done now. We lag behind in areas of science and technology and we need to build our institutions so we could rely on science to move forward.”

Dr Samad revealed that he’s working with a group of scientists and advisers to help Pakistan. “We have formed a group of several scientists to see how we can help Pakistan. Most of these scientists are based at leading institutions and research organisations in the UK. We are working to first identify areas of research, which are of strategic importance to Pakistan.”

Dr Samad plans to return to Pakistan one day to serve his motherland. “I will return to Pakistan but after the completion of projects I am working on,” said the scientist who lives in the Cambridge city.

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