The touch of paradise
In the ancient Persian language, Minoo means "Paradise".
Talk even for just a few moments with Deakin PhD student Minoo Naebe and it doesn’t take long to realise she believes she has found another paradise in her new country.
“The great art of Australia,” she says, “is to make a foreigner feel welcome.
“Two years ago, I arrived in Australia, a young person abroad for the first time without much English, at 1am. There was a person there from Deakin to pick me up.
“An inn had already been booked for me when we got back to Geelong. When I came to the university I found the environment very supportive and friendly. They helped me to settle down. Now I have many, many friends, and from all over the world.
“When I was a little girl in Iran I would look at the map and see countries in Africa and Asia and America.
“Now, here in Geelong, I have friends from many of those places - from Ecuador, East Timor, China and France. I even have friends from places I had never heard of before.
“I don’t think any other place in the world can afford such an experience.”
Right from her early days in the historical city of Isfahan - Iran’s third largest and a textile centre famous for its Persian rugs - Minoo Naebe was destined to become a scientist, and to travel the world.
“I really had a passion about science because I believe science teaches you how to look at your life, how to live your life in a very smart way,” she said.
“I didn’t just look at the things as they are. I really did
like to go beyond that to see what is behind the appearance.
Deakin University - now like Isfahan renowned for its expertise in fibres and textiles - has taken her on that magic carpet ride.
“Isfahan is a very beautiful city, with many old buildings, some 1500 years old. Although home is always home when I travel now it is Australia I miss,” she says.
Minoo discovered Deakin University and the brilliant team of researchers led by Professor Xungai Wang via the Internet.
“I doubt that without that sort of technology, I would ever have become aware of this place in Australia, or the people here,” she said. “I remember writing to Xungai and getting a reply telling me about the scholarship, so I applied.
“Getting the letter from Deakin University telling me I had got the award, that is one of the unforgettable moments of my life. I just cried … with happiness.
Minoo very quickly made her own impact in Australia.
She was part of Professor Wang’s team that won the Industrial Technology award in the 2005 NanoVic Prizes for innovation in Nanotechnology.
Like so much of Deakin’s research, and particularly in the Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation, Minoo’s PhD work is about providing practical outcomes.
She is investigating ways of solving the problems of agglomeration when particles are stuffed into fibres.
“A common problem is that the small particles tend to form aggregates,” she says. “These affect fibre uniformity and in turn weaken the fibres mechanical properties”
Minoo has already had success with “large” microsize fibres and she is now working with much smaller nanosize fibres that contain even smaller particles.
As Professor Wang says, “it’s a very challenging task for a very hard working student”.
If successful, and hopes are genuinely high, the results have phenomenal potential to enhance the daily lives of people around the world.
New fibres could be more heat and bacterial resistant and have greater conductivity. And this is where her research becomes even more fascinating.
“We may have, for instance, conductive materials that can monitor a person’s medical condition,” Minoo said. “If they have a heart condition, they could wear a shirt that checks their heart beat, then sets of an alarm at remote monitoring centre … in a hospital or a surgery … if they have a problem.
“We’re also working on materials that warm up as the weather gets colder. So rather than having to go and put on another jumper, you just turn up the one you are wearing.
“These are all things that will help us with our future life.”
Sounds more and more like Paradise.