Norhana Arsad, Ph.D, is a Professor and Head of the Photonic Technology Research Group and Laboratory within the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University Kebangsaan, Malaysia. She serves on the Committee of IEEE Photonics Malaysia Section and it the Chapter Chair Advisor of IEEE University Kebangsaan Malaysia Student Branch. She is an IEEE Senior Member and received the B.Eng. degree in computer and communication systems as well as the M.Sc. degree in photonics from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia, in 2000 and 2003, respectively, and then her Ph.D. degree from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, U.K., in 2010.
Below is a short Q&A with Norhana so that you can get to know her background and goals as a volunteer leader and mentor.
Could you share details about your research and background in Photonics?
During one of my research projects, I explored and designed a few fiber laser systems that can be applied into various domains of spectroscopy, gas sensing, and photonics technology. Among other recent projects, I have developed a commercial autonomous Qibla finder based on a diode laser that accurately detects qibla direction in a relatively shorter time compared to industrial methods using Theodolite.
Why “Photonics”? What was your “Photonics Moment”?
I was drawn to photonics when I stepped into the realm of optoelectronics engineering, in which I saw and understood the potential of how light works. As I progressed in my engineering career, I became fascinated by the amazing world of lasers. I created InnoQibla, a product that uses laser technology to serve society. It was not only a commercial hit but also a symbol of hope, a reflection of the teamwork and creativity that this field inspires. This would be my ‘Photonic Moment’ that makes me continue to explore, innovate, and transcend in photonics, motivated by curiosity and excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a global network of experts.
How have you volunteered with IEEE Photonics Society? What have you gained from the experience?
I am proud to be a volunteer for the IEEE Photonics Society since 2010. I have been actively participating in the IEEE Photonics Society Malaysia Chapter and International Conference on Photonics (ICP) in multiple positions, including Chair in ICP2020. As the advisor for the IEEE Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Student Branch (IEEE UKM SB), we always organize activities and events, such as workshops, seminars, conferences, and outreach programs, including panel discussions, networking sessions, and mentoring programs. I have also encouraged and motivated students and young researchers to pursue careers in photonics. IEEE Photonics Society has given me a multitude of opportunities to work with, nurture, and learn from great talents in the field.
What motivates you to continue your interest in the field of photonics?
Photonics is a fascinating and rapidly evolving field that involves the study and application of light, or photons, for various technologies and applications. I can see that Photonics will be integral in the future with the coming of age of new technologies being presented. I, for one, definitely want to be a part of that.
What are your words of advice to young researchers in photonics?
Photonics is a captivating and multidisciplinary field with many applications in science, technology, engineering, and society. I have been exploring and contributing to this field for more than a decade. I would advise young researchers to be more curious, passionate, and collaborative to keep full interest. Curiosity will help to learn new things and discover new possibilities. Passion will inspire you to overcome challenges and pursue excellence. Collaboration encourages further works with others and the sharing of ideas and experiences. Interest will allow for more patience and opportunities to be present as you will be discovering more possibilities in this field. Exploring and experiencing will also take time and help you “get a hang of it”. Overall, Photonics is a field that demands creativity, innovation, and teamwork. Young researchers have all the potential to make a difference in this field and beyond.
Tell us something fun about yourself.
My research draws deep inspiration from my passion for travel and cultural immersion. Exploring diverse perspectives across the globe fuels my curiosity and ignites innovative research ideas. Traveling is not just for fun; it’s for science! My adventures across the globe spark my research like nothing else. All these experiences have taught me a lot about how I want to experiment, innovate, and create future projects and discoveries. Also, I am a Polyglot, a person who knows and is able to use several languages, and was just recently awarded the “Top Research Scientists of Malaysia (TRSM) 2023 Award”. I do not plan on slowing down in my future life. To me, experience is something you cannot buy but is something expensive that you gain through self-reflection, learning from others, and being open to new pathways and perspectives in life.