Dr Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim made history when she became the first Malaysian to launch a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite in the United States.

Dr Amani, aged just 36 at that time, was also entrusted to lead a team of 28 scientists, technologist and engineers to work on NASA’s first ever “astrobiology” programmed to test how living cells would react to a lack of gravity.

The programme was then launched as a nanosatellite together with a SpaceX rocket which is part of NASA’s Journey to Mars mission.

Interestingly, Dr Amani’s journey with NASA started with her working as a volunteer in laboratories washing glass slides and cover slips for microscopes while she was studying electrical engineering at University of Minnesota.

“I worked in these laboratories not just because I wanted to learn, but because I did the work so well, they started paying me and giving me opportunities, to the level that the professor recommended me to do a PhD in biomedicine,” she said.

The PhD graduate from Purdue University in biomedical engineering currently dedicates her expertise teaching and conducting research at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), where she specialises in life-saving biosensor technology.