Published: 18 March 2016

Research rewards ‘priceless’ for PhD graduate

The winner of the research category of the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Awards had an outstanding year which saw him named as one of the top research scientists in Malaysia and he became one of the youngest professors, aged 34, in the country. He also appeared in the Top 10 Young Creative Malaysians list in 2015.

Dr Iqbal Saripan graduated in 2006 with a PhD in image processing applied to nuclear image acquisition system, and is now Director of Centre for Quality Assurance and Professor of Digital Image Processing at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

“I am very proud to have won the award and to have been recognised in this way,” said Iqbal. “The training and supervision I received at Surrey equipped me with the research skills to succeed and it is very rewarding to see my research have an impact on society.”

Iqbal is currently furthering the work of his PhD and has developed a nuclear imaging camera to detect the early stages of breast cancer for which he won the National Young Scientist Award. He is also investigating ways to improve the quality of PET/CT and MRI scans to give doctors a better understanding of the diseases they are treating.

“My work motivates me to go that extra mile. When you have spent a couple of years on a project and you see its effect on people’s lives – for me that is priceless.”

Iqbal undertook his first degree in Malaysia but wanted to continue at a university with a strong track record in image processing. Surrey’s additional strengths in nuclear physics clinched the decision for Iqbal.

He says his time at Surrey made him more independent and gave him an understanding of what made a good researcher. “My supervisors taught me that while they were there to help me, I was fully responsible for taking control of my PhD. It was tough at times but the experience made me a different person. Now, when I teach my own students I encourage them to be critical about their research, keep asking questions about it and explain how it will generate more knowledge.”

When those tough moments came, there was one place which helped Iqbal think things through. “When I had problems, I always went to sit by the lake and watch the ducks! It was a very inspiring place for me and one of my favourite memories of Surrey.”


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