Aug 022012

Congratulations to Mariam Sultana, reportedly Pakistan’s first PhD in astrophysics. (Or in the subfield of extragalactic astrophysics, according to another news site. Either way, it’s a laudable achievement.)

I knew women scientists have an especially difficult time in very conservative Muslim countries.

I didn’t know astrophysicists (presumably, both male and female) had to pass an extra hurdle: apparently, illiterate Islamists don’t know the difference between astrophysics and astrology. The practice of astrology, like other forms of fortune telling, is considered haraam, a sin against Allah.

Am I ever so glad that I live in an enlightened, secular country.

One of Dr. Sultana’s (I am boldly assuming that Sultana is her last name, though I am well aware that Pakistani naming conventions do not necessarily follow Western traditions) examiners was James Binney, whose name is well known to anyone involved with galactic astrophysics; the book colloquially known as “Binney and Tremaine” (the real title is Galactic Dynamics) is considered one of the field’s “bibles”. (Darn, I hope no religious fanatic misconstrues the meaning of “bible” in the preceding sentence!)

I wish Dr. Sultana the brightest career. Who knows, maybe I’ll run into her one day somewhere, perhaps at the Perimeter Institute.

 Posted by at 4:46 pm

  3 Responses to “First female Pakistani PhD in (extragalactic?) astrophysics”

  1. This is really a very false claim. There is a women from Pakistan named Tayyaba Zafar who had done her PhD in extragalactic astrophysics from Copenhagen in 2011. One must correct facts.

  2. Why, thank you for that correction! To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about the claim myself when I read about it, which is why I checked multiple news sources. Perhaps the correct statement would be that Dr. Sultana is the first woman to earn a PhD in (extragalactic) astrophysics in Pakistan?

  3. You are right. She is first who has done PhD in Pakistan. The PhD thesis of Tayyaba Zafar can be checked here