“I really love the outdoors, and being offered a chance to do research which may be of benefit to the environment in the future, is a dream come true,” said Natasya Nabilla Hairon Azhar, a PhD candidate at the Department of Chemistry when met recently.
This Penangite is part of the fast-track PhD programme offered by Universiti Malaya to undergraduate students who completed their bachelor degree studies with flying colours.
“I would have never imagined to start doing my PhD right after completing my degree; but perhaps the universe had different plans,” said Natasya cheekily. “I was fortunate to be exposed to the research world by Dr. Desmond Ang Teck Chye, when he offered me the research assistant post after I completed my studies,” she added.
Her PhD work, supervised by both Dr. Ang and Dr. Acga Cheng, focused on enhancing the degradability of rubber. It revolves around the development of oxo-biodegradable rubber, and its subsequent analyses, to better understand its potential as a solution to the rubber industry waste management.
“As one of the top producers of natural rubber in the world, Malaysia produces a significant amount of industrial waste that needs to be managed efficiently to have the least impact to the environment. Since rubber is a naturally strong polymer, and also highly resistant to heat, oxygen, and UV light, it degrades very poorly on its own when left in the environment.
That is why developing oxo-biodegradable rubber is important, because it provides one of the options in better managing the industrial waste that we produce,” said Natasya excitedly.
If you would like to have a chat on your idea about using oxo-biodegradable rubber as the material for your next project, then you better be quick to catch her at her laboratory in the Faculty of Science. Otherwise this nature-loving young researcher may be well off into her next hiking adventure!
📸 Mohd. Haizal Ismail / CCO