Women in Science: Prof Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusoff

12 Feb 2022 07:54am
A drawing by a 12-year-old featuring Khatijah as one of the five role models.
A drawing by a 12-year-old featuring Khatijah as one of the five role models.

Malaysia is home to a plethora of women who have made their mark in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and one of it is Prof Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusoff.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science marks a significant day for Khatijah as women have come a long way in achieving leadership roles in the STEM workforce.

“This day is special as it's a day for women and girls to be recognised and acknowledged for their contribution to science.

“Hopefully it will also inspire all the young girls out there to be where we are today and prove our standing in this field,” she told Sinar Daily in a phone interview.

There is still a significant gender gap in the fields of STEM in other countries, but not in Malaysia, said Khatijah.

However, she noted that there are barriers facing women and girls in science, especially when they progress further in their careers. One of it is striking the right balance between professional work and managing a family.

“I witnessed how challenging it was for my colleagues to juggle between work and family, it definitely isn’t easy,” she said.

Prof Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusoff 
(photo from upm.edu.my)
Prof Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusoff (photo from upm.edu.my)

Her love for science traces back to her younger days when she would often follow her father to the hospital, where he worked as an administrator.

Related Articles:

“My father brought me to the pathology lab and showed me all the equipment there which piqued my interest in science and technology.

“He is also my role model and is everything I aspire to be. I still keep the microscope he gave me to play with when I was a kid,” she shared.

Walking down memory lane to recall some memorable moments in her career, she said there was a time she received an email from a parent in the United Kingdom who shared a drawing made by his daughter for an art competition.

The drawing featured Khatijah as one of the 12-year-old’s role models.

Speaking of drawings, did you know that Khatijah was featured in a DC comic book called Wonderful Women of the World?

It featured real-life women and their contributions to society, illustrated by Malaysian artist Nur Hanie Mohd. Other influential women who were also featured in the comic book include Beyonce, Serena Williams and activist Greta Thunberg.


Khatijah is a highly respected academician and virologist known for her research on Newcastle disease virus (NDV), discovering a poultry virus that could be used to treat a range of cancers.

Born in Penang, she is currently a professor at the Department of Microbiology Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences of Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Not only that, she is also the vice president of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) where 1,000 scientists in 70 countries are united in their aim to promote scientific capacity and excellence for sustainable development in developing countries.

She was also the Deputy Secretary General of Ministry in Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) for five years and was involved in establishing the National Science and Research Council, the Nanotechnology Directorate, the National Bioethics Council and the National Institute of Biotechnology.

Khatijah has won significant awards for her career, including the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment's National Young Scientist Award in 1990.

More Like This