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    UNIS/BIO/533
    26 November 1999
    Secretary-General Appoints Mazlan Othman 
    Director of Office for Outer Space Affairs

     

    VIENNA, 25 November (UN Information Service) -- The Secretary-General has appointed Professor Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, as of 21 October 1999.

     Dr. Othman is Professor of Astrophysics at the National University of Malaysia and, prior to joining the United Nations, was the Director-General of the Space Science Studies Division in Malaysia. She was educated at Malaysia’s elite girls’ boarding school and subsequently studied Physics at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand on a Colombo Plan Scholarship. She later took her Ph.D. in Astrophysics, being the first woman awarded a doctorate from the Physics Department nearly 120 years after its founding.

     On her return to Malaysia she taught in the Physics Department of the National University of Malaysia. As the first astrophysicist in the country she established undergraduate and post-graduate courses in astronomy, on which she continued to teach until she left for the United Nations.

     Realizing the need to promote knowledge of space science in Malaysia she was active in introducing it into the school curriculum. A decade of campaigning to promote public awareness of astronomy bore fruit when she was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department in December 1990 to direct the design and construction of the National Planetarium, which became fully operational in March 1993. While at the Prime Minister’s Department, she also established the nation’s Space Science Studies Division. As Director-General she initiated the National Microsatellite Programme which gave birth to TiungSAT-1, due to be launched in early 2000.  Always at the forefront of space issues she spearheaded initiatives to identify space R&D priorities, formulate space laws and strategize the national space policy.

     Prof. Othman has published and presented numerous academic papers at national and international fora, not only on astrophysics but also on sustainable development and many aspects of management. She is a member of the Malaysian team attempting to detect gravitational waves from space.

     Prof. Othman is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Fellow of the Malaysian Scientific Association. She was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Science by her alma mater, the University of Otago. She has won several national awards and was conferred “ Datuk” by His Majesty Yang Di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

    She is married and has a son and a daughter.
     

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