Student Focus: Altynay Kaidarova

Altynay Kaidarova is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering based in the University’s Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science & Engineering division. Photo courtesy of Altynay Kaidarova.

​-By David Murphy, KAUST News

Altynay Kaidarova is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering based in the University's Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science & Engineering division. Altynay Kaidarova is a member of the Sensing, Magnetism and Microsystems group (SMM) and is under the supervision of Professor Jürgen Kosel. Kaidarova believes that the research conducted by the SMM group has the potential to create new knowledge that could influence the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

"Professor Kosel has created a great research environment with collaborative spirit, and it is inspiring to really maximize our impact on important global problems. SMM develops magnetic systems using micro and nanotechnology, which includes the design and implementation of the systems and applications that are mainly in the field of biology and medicine," Kaidarova said.

The SMM group's recent research focused on magnetic devices for cancer cell destruction, multifunctional biomimetic nanocomposite tactile sensors, remotely operated drug delivery systems, energy harvesting devices, smart nanoprobes for cell studies, corrosion sensors, an underwater animal monitoring magnetic sensor system and more.

Deciding factors

Kaidarova obtained her bachelor's degree in electronic and communication engineering from the University of Liverpool, U.K. After Liverpool, she worked as a laboratory assistant at Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan. She noted that the "uniqueness of KAUST," coupled with three deciding features—high research activity, global thought leaders and diversity—were the reasons she chose to continue her career in academia by the shores of the Red Sea.

"First—the high research activity: In addition to modern educational programs, KAUST offers research pursuing innovation and commerce. People can fully concentrate on research due to available state-of-the-art facilities and the latest technology," she said.

"Second—master teachers, global thought leaders and notable professors: I believe they stimulate a competitive and well-regarded university. The appeal of making discoveries and working with the brightest intellects in the world has motivated and attracted me," Kaidarova noted.

"Third—tremendous diversity: In total, there are over 100 nationalities among faculty, staff, researchers, students and the community, which is over 50 percent of the nations around the globe. I think this is an excellent platform for networking, collaboration and making numerous friends from all around the world," she added.

Time at KAUST

Kaidarova believes that her time at the University has increased her motivation to learn and engage with others intellectually, creatively and socially. She maintains that every day at KAUST has been a new experience and valuable learning opportunity.

"Adapting to the new education system full of projects, homework, midterms and exams was the most challenging part. It has highlighted the importance of effective time management and concentration, prioritizing and progress monitoring," Kaidarova noted.

"Ever since I joined the SMM group, I have not only gotten engaged in active research, but I also got opportunities to present my work to a wide audience at different conferences, such as the 62nd Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials (MMM 2017) and the KAUST-NSF Conference on Environmental Monitoring: Foundations and Applications. I also successfully defended my master's thesis on Underwater animal monitoring magnetic sensor system and submitted my first-author paper," she added.

Recently, the IEEE Magnetics Society selected ten motivated and enthusiastic students to lead a group of young professionals, known as "Next Generation Magnesians Advisory Board," during the 62nd Annual Conference on MMM2017 in Pittsburgh. Altynay has been designated to lead this board. The groups mission is to create a forum for young professionals and promote the advancement of science, exchange information among its members and global industrial community.

An inspirational future

Although a long academic journey to become a qualified professional and productive member of the research community remains ahead for Kaidarova, she emphasized her commitment to continue her education as a Ph.D. student as part of the SMM group.

"While at KAUST, I will keep a tight focus on Sensing, Magnetism and Microsystems in the Electrical Engineering program and upon my Ph.D. defense—I am keeping a wide-angle view," she stressed.

"In the SMM group, we are aware that marine pollution and the unsustainable demands of humanity on nature have reinforced a dramatic reduction of population numbers of underwater organisms. While the efforts to tackle these global problems continue, it is also fundamental to obtain insights into the behavior of marine animals to find out what they need and what they are not getting. To collect their behavioral parameters, biologging devices use heavy, bulky and rigid systems on large species, with perceptible effects to their natural behavior. We have recently introduced a less intrusive, lightweight and flexible underwater animal monitoring system that utilizes tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) sensors and flexible composite magnets," Kaidarova said.

Kaidarova is convinced that her current career and the academic and personal opportunities she is availing of would not have been possible without her inspirational mother.

"My mother has inspired my career by instilling the importance of passion projects—academics, professional life, sports or any other field. I believe in success through hard work, dedication and—most importantly—progressive thinking," she emphasized.

"My favorite quote comes from the mathematician Theodore Von Kármán, who said, "Scientists discover the world that exists; engineers create the world that never was," she concluded.

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