By Abdul Sattar Khan
MARDAN: The world is observing International Day of Women and Girls in Science today (Sunday). On this special occasion, TNN conducted an interview of Sarah Farooq Khan who aspires to become a role model for other girls through her research in the field of Biotechnology.
Sarah, hailing from Katlang area of Mardan, has won two medals in the United States and now she is working on giving practical shape to her two inventions of “Inspector No coli” and “Reporter Fish”.
Sarah and her team won bronze medal on the Inspector No coli project in the competition of genetically-engineered machine in Boston in 2016. Through this project, the students had produced such bacteria through changes in the DNA that gives information about presence of toxic gases in the atmosphere. Her team also won a silver medal in the Reporter Fish project in the same competitions last year. Reporter Fish is a special breed which changes its colour with change in DNA over presence of toxic material in the water.
Sarah told TNN that she is currently a Biotechnology teacher at a private university in Peshawar. She said she is continuing her research along with her job and she will soon complete work on these projects of bacteria and fish. She said she aspires to complete her PhD studies abroad, but won’t do so until completion of her research on these two projects.
The 23-year-old girl from Mardan said she belongs to a common middle class family and her nomination in two competitions in the US for two consecutive years and winning two medals is a huge honour for her.
“Students from the world’s top universities like Oxford and Cambridge had also brought their models in the competition. Winning medals in such reputed competition is a matter of great honour for me and my family,” she said.
Sarah said the competitions were held in synthetic biology which is a new discipline. However, she said this discipline is not being given much importance in Pakistan, which is unfortunate. She said she has seen a lot of modern laboratories in schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan, but students did not benefit from it. She said the main reason for this problem is shortage of well trained and expert teachers.
“The government and institutions should be extremely careful in selection of teachers. How can the untrained or incompetent teachers handle the students in this age of modern technology,” she said.
She urged the parents to support their girls who want to excel in the field of education and research.
“Most of our girls want to excel in education, but they don’t get permission from their homes. It is unfortunate that our talented girls face this situation,” she said.
Sarah believes that girls, if given opportunity, can compete with boys in every field of life. She said the future of Pakistani youth in the field of science and technology is bright.