TOLEDO, Ohio – The life of the stereo-typical 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
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
Zainab Al-Firdaus and Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad
work together in the laboratory.
Nanofibers of titanium dioxide.
titanium dioxide, a photocatalyst that has
antimicrobial properties when activated,
and wrote a paper titled “Fabrication of
Antimicrobial Titania Nanofibers by Elec-trospinning,” which appeared in the Fall
2008 issue of Advanced Materials, Manufacturing and Testing Information Analysis
Center Quarterly, published by the US
Department of Defense.
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.
Rebecca C. Jernigan