Before coming to University of Central Lancashire, I worked at the University of Ulster as Professor of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials in the institute of Nanotechnology with fantastic facilities and an established research group. The decision to move to UCLAN was easy from a family perspective but extremely difficult from a research point of view. I would have to start from scratch and it would take enormous effort, time and support to get established at UCLAN.
With no students, no lab facilities of my own and no investment, I kept thinking about giving up my research career and focus on teaching and admin. I did not know anyone so my decision seemed logical and realistic. During this period of uncertainty I got a phone call, from a friend inviting me to dinner in Rusholme, Manchester and he wanted me to meet a relative who was interested pursuing her career. I was looking for a serious, hard working, dedicated and totally PhD focused student to help me get started at UCLAN. My first impression of Banu Abdallah was way off the mark. I was impressed with her intelligence and personality but thought that the combination of personality and looks would get in the way because she would be constantly distracted by constant group of friends and would have little time and focus needed to complete a PhD.
Banu’s application, interview and acceptance went smoothly. We decided to work on Carbon Nanotubes for cancer therapy. This is an exciting topic and took into account my own experiences in carbon based materials. I introduced Banu to potential academic collaborators at UCLAN and other students. Almost overnight I got access to facilities, labs and people at UCLan in other schools, invitations for collaborations flooded in from everywhere in the UK and abroad. Everywhere Banu went she won people over with her brilliant personality and confidence. More and more students joined the group and my reputation at UCLAN kept getting better and better. I can say without hesitation that she is my most memorable student from an academic and personal perspective.
Recently by chance from the Graduate Research School, I discovered I was actually supervising 28 PhD students across a plethora of schools which alone represents a massive growth, in addition to my responsibility as Head of UCLAN Institute of Nanotechnology and Bioengineering and developments in research Institute in China. Needless to say, I’ve been a very busy man.
I was, and always will be, exceptionally proud to have had Banu as my PhD student due to her charisma and impeccable manners, loyalty, sincerity and behaviour as well as her indisputable talents in research and building collaborations and links internationally for me and the Institute of Nanotechnology during its infancy. However my pride and joy skyrocketed when I saw her in her graduation gown with her parents and on stage receiving her PhD award. She is the first PhD student to graduate from the new School of Medicine and Dentistry as well as the very first student to receive the award of “Honorary Chairperson” of the Nanotechnology group. As you can imagine we are immensely proud!
As Banu now looks onto her future as “Dr Banu Abdallah” I am certain she will be a spectacular success, my best wishes have been, and always will be with her as well as my blessings.