Meet Noushin Nasiri who is building the next generation of breath activated sensors which in the near future will be able to detect diseases such as lung cancer, diabetes, breast cancer and schizophrenia.
While at ANU, Noushin has spent the last few years developing fingerprint sized biosensors which are covered in nanoparticles. These sensors when used to analyse breath are able to pick up differences in concentrations in certain compounds which can be used to test for disease.
As a PhD student at the number one university in Australia and top 20 in the world, Noushin is provided with a great opportunity to do research in her chosen field and collaborate with other researchers from different departments and also other universities.
Noushin’s interest in Nano Materials started seven years ago after she joined a translating group to interpret a book about Nanomaterials from English to Persian. “Those days, I was a material Engineer, however, I found myself interested in this field while I was translating the book. I was inspired to think about a research degree and career because I loved to explore and think deeper as a researcher, and publish my insights to the world.”
With the differences in concentration of these compounds being so low, detecting them is a challenge: “it is similar to finding a drop of blood in an Olympic sized swimming pool” she explains.
While it seems that her research is going from strength to strength, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing: “I spend at least two months preparing, stabilising and testing each sensor. Once, one of the newest sensors fell on the floor while I was placing it into the sensor chamber. This ruined at least two months’ work and I had to repeat the steps all over again”.
Being passionate about her research, Noushin entered the Three Minute Thesis competition, challenging herself to explain her years of research in just three minutes. She stresses the importance of communication in all forms of research and she sees the competition as a great opportunity to get her research “out of the laboratory and into the real world”. While presenting Noushin captivated the audience and was awarded with the People’s Choice award.
This time next year Noushin sees herself in a professional job related to her field of study. “I believe that my ANU qualification will be a good asset as I see it as an investment; a certificate of my special capabilities in Nanomaterial field that gives me many advantages on my future career.”
“My advice to prospective PhD students considering the ANU is to take the time to search the different research fields to find a research group that matches your interests and goals.”