Mazlan Othman in 2010.
|Alma mater||University of Otago|
Dato’ Seri Mazlan binti Othman (born 11 December 1951) is a Malaysian astrophysicist whose work has pioneered Malaysia's participation in space exploration. She was her country's first astrophysicist, and helped to create a curriculum in astrophysics at the national university, as well as to build public awareness and understanding of astronomy and space issues. She was appointed Director General of Angkasa, the Malaysian National Space Agency and served as the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna from 2007 to 2014.
Early life and education
Born in Seremban, Malaysia, Mazlan attended Kolej Tunku Kurshiah, a Malaysian prominent boarding school in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. Her aptitude for mathematics led to enrolment in a science curriculum. Although her family encouraged her to become a physician MD, she decided to pursue physics instead. She attended the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand on a Colombo plan scholarship, earning a BSc. (Honours) in 1975. She then joined the National University of Malaysia (UKM) as a tutor, but negotiated an extension to her scholarship and returned to Otago, earning her Ph.D in physics in 1981 - the first woman to do so since the University was founded in 1869.
Dato' Mazlan Othman returned to Malaysia as the country's first astrophysicist, and worked to create a curriculum in astrophysics at the national university, as well as to build public awareness and understanding of astronomy and space issues. She also performed research for a semester at the Kiso Observatory in Japan.
Her interest in public education was rewarded in 1990 when Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad placed her in charge of the Planetarium Division of the Prime Minister's Department, overseeing development of Planetarium Negara, Malaysia's national planetarium in Kuala Lumpur. After the planetarium opened in 1993, Mazlan was made Director General of the government's new Space Science Studies Division, where she launched a microsatellite development program. She received a full professorship the following year.
In November 1999, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, appointed Mazlan as Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna. At the request of Prime Minister Mahathir, she returned to Malaysia in July 2002 to serve for five years as the founding Director General of Angkasa, the Malaysian National Space Agency, where her work led to the launch of the first Malaysian astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.
Mazlan was reappointed as UNOOSA director in 2007 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and left Angkasa to return to the post that December. At UNOOSA she dealt with issues of international co-operation in space, prevention of collisions and space debris, use of space-based remote sensing platforms for sustainable development, co-ordination of space law between countries, and the risks posed by near-earth asteroids, among other topics.
In September 2010, several news sources reported the United Nations would soon appoint Othman to be the ambassador for extraterrestrial contact, apparently basing their claims on remarks she made suggesting that the UN co-ordinate any international response to such contact, and her scheduled appearance on a Royal Society panel that October, "Towards a scientific and societal agenda on extra-terrestrial life." However, a UN spokesperson dismissed the reports as "nonsense", dismissing any plan to expand the mandate of UNOOSA, and in an email to The Guardian, Othman stated, in compliance to the wishes of the United Nations, "It sounds really cool but I have to deny it." She later explained that her talk would illustrate how extraterrestrial affairs could become a topic of discussion at the UN, using as an example the advocacy that led to UN discussion of near-Earth objects and space debris.
After retiring from the United Nations, Othman served on advisory committees and boards involving science and space, taught as a visiting professor, and became a senior fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. In September 2017, she was named Director of the International Science Council (ISC) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
In the 1997 Agong's honours list, Tuanku Ja'afar, the tenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, conferred the federal decoration and order Panglima Jasa Negara (for meritorious service) on Mazlan, granting her the honorific "Datuk".
Also in 1997, Mazlan's alma mater, the University of Otago, awarded her the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science.
In 2009, for "her work in developing astronomy education in Malaysia and her leading national and international role in space science", the Institute of Physics awarded Mazlan its President's Medal.
- Malaysia :
- Negeri Sembilan :
- Principal Grand Knight of the Order of Loyalty to Negeri Sembilan (SSNS) - Dato' Seri (2020)
Dato’ Seri Mazlan Othman has two children and two grandchildren. She lives with her daughter (youngest) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- "Past and Present Heads of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "Our History, University of Otago, New Zealand". Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- Ishida, K.; Othman, M. (1988). "Surface distribution of M stars with different IRAS colour". Astrophysics and Space Science. 148 (2): 239. Bibcode:1988Ap&SS.148..239I. doi:10.1007/BF00645963.
- "ASP: World Beat: Malaysia". 1994. Archived from the original on 10 November 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "Secretary-General Appoints Mazlan Othman Director of Office for Outer Space Affairs". 26 November 1999. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "Mazlan Othman retires as DG of Angkasa on Dec 10". 12 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- Blake, Heidi (26 September 2010). "UN 'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- "Towards a scientific and societal agenda on extra-terrestrial life". Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "UN: Reported alien ambassador role is "nonsense"". Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- Weaver, Matthew (28 September 2010). "UN plan for 'alien ambassador' a case of science fiction?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- M. Othman, personal communication, 2010-09-29
- "Professor Mazlan Othman appointed as new Director of ICSU ROAP". Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- "List of Award Recipients". Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "Alumni Profile: Professor Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman". Retrieved 30 May 2009.
- "2009 President's Medal". Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Jubiläums-Polarsternpreis 2013 ergeht an Dr. Mazlan Othman". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
- "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".