Talking Stars

Aisha Al Yazeedi an Emirati research scientist credits the support at NYUAD for propelling her forward in her career.

Aisha Al Yazeedi was studying general physics before she joined NYU Abu Dhabi as a researcher. It was only when she joined Associate Professor of Physics Joseph Gelfand’s lab that Yazeedi began specializing in high energy particle astrophysics. 

Galaxies undergo a phase in which they lose most of their gas. Studying radio galaxies, Al Yazeedi observes the black hole at the center of a galaxy and explores what happens to the gas: Does it return to the galaxy or does it become part of the interstellar medium? The work she’s put in saw the Emirati national publish her first research paper with key findings on the evolution of galaxies

Al Yazeedi credited the support from the lab and especially from Professor Gelfand for helping her get the paper published. “He’s enabled me with a certain way of thinking, as well as the tools to access and excel in the research work I was doing,” Al Yazeedi said. Professor Gelfand has a way of delivering information which prompts Al Yazeedi to form further questions and investigate independently to find answers. “I learn something new every day,” Al Yazeedi added. 

Access to Equipment Across the Globe

Besides a supportive mentorship, the equipment used for observational research work and computing at NYUAD is really advanced with international reach. “For example, I was able to use a telescope in New Mexico through a network of stations in the US… it wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t part of (this research group)."

Doing observational research work is not about observing a behavior and presenting what was observed. “It has to make sense, it has to interconnect with the theories we have not only for scientists, but also for a lay person to understand,” Al Yazeedi said. 

The Emirati encourages young women who are interested in studying STEM to go for it. “The environment at NYUAD is very encouraging. Everyone wants you to learn and be part of something.” 

While Al Yazeedi is hoping to pursue a career in academia, she is also keen to transition from scientific research into an actual project — like a space research project incubated by the UAE government. “I want to see how I can apply what I’ve learned into a project,” Al Yazeedi said.

Al Yazeedi is currently a research scientist under the NYUAD Kawader program

Kawader is a unique, national capacity-building research fellowship program that allows outstanding graduates to gain experience in a cutting-edge academic research environment. This three-year, individually tailored, intensive program has two distinctive paths designed for (Emirati) graduates considering a graduate degree or a career in research.