Healthcare & Sciences

Professor Emerita Dato’ Seri Dr Mazlan Othman

Malaysia’s first astrophysicist who played an instrumental role in sending Malaysia’s first astronaut to space and creating public awareness and understanding of astronomy

Profile


Malaysia’s first astrophysicist, Professor Emerita Dato’ Seri Dr. Mazlan Othman is an accomplished scientist with several national and international awards under her belt. Celebrated for putting Malaysia’s first astronaut to space, her illustrious career in space science saw her in leadership roles that included Director of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) from 1999 to 2002 and 2007 to 2013 and founding Director-General of ANGKASA, Malaysia’s National Space Agency, from 2002 to 2007.

Dr Mazlan studied at University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand where she obtained a Ph.D in Astrophysics and became the first woman to be awarded a doctorate in nearly 120 years since the university’s founding. She returned to Malaysia in 1981 to teach at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where she pioneered an academic programme on astrophysics and was appointed Professor of Astrophysics in 1994.

She was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department in 1990 to set up the National Planetarium, where she became its first Director-General and led the design and manufacture of Malaysia’s first remote-sensing satellite, TiungSAT-1, which was launched in 2000. Upon her return to Malaysia from her first stint as director for UNOOSA, she set up ANGKASA and established the National Space Centre, founded the Langkawi National Observatory and helped place the world’s first remote-sensing satellite in the near-Equatorial orbit. She spearheaded the Angkasawan Programme in 2007, launching the first Malaysian astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, to the International Space Station before returning to serve as Director of UNOOSA that same year.

Dr Mazlan is currently director of the International Science Council (ISC) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP), a role she assumed in 2017.

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Professor Emerita Dato’ Seri Dr. Mazlan Othman’s original choice of study was literature and the arts but was put into the science stream by her teachers who thought that she was doing too well in science to be pursuing those other subjects.

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