05 Mar 2016

The First PhD of Watumalang District Now Researcher for Alternative Energy

Dr. Setyawati Yani grew up with three siblings in Petir Village, Watumalang District, Wonosobo Regency – wonosobo being "gathering place in the forest" in Javanese. Her parents were both primary school teachers, and it brought up a love for science in her.

“I had always been fascinated by both mathematics and chemistry. I wanted to be someone like Marie Curie, a woman Nobel laureate who discovered radioactive compounds,” Setyawati reminisced with a smile.

It was Setyawati's love for chemistry that propelled her to complete her bachelor's studies in chemical engineering at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. Setyawati was the first person from her village to ever be accepted into and graduate from the prestigious university.

After achieving her degree, Setyawati became lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Universitas Muslim Indonesia in Makassar. However, Setyawati wanted to further her education – her goal was to study overseas to gain the highest possible qualification from a top international university.

“That was the reason I applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering in Australia,” Setyawati explained.

After graduating with a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Western Australia in 2009, Setyawati became Watumalang District’s first PhD.

As for experience in Australia, Setyawati states, “I use the skills I gained during my study  in Australia every day. As well as doing my PhD, I had a chance to be a university tutor in Australia. It was great to have an experience to prepare materials and teach - under professorial supervision -  in an Australian university.”

Now  Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and the Head of the International Affairs Office at Universitas  Muslim Indonesia, Makassar, Setyawati’s role is to research energy and environment, particularly processing low-rank coal, to provide cheap and clean energy sources, as well as processing municipal and agricultural wastes to provide energy and other valuable products.

Setyawati sees Australia’s research climate as being very different to Indonesia’s.

“Generally, Indonesian students expect very specific directions from their supervisor, but this is something they deliberately won’t get in Australia,” Setyawati explained.

Setyawati plans to continue to undertake further studies to improve her knowledge and skills.

“I always want to better myself. Undertaking postdoctoral research is one of my plans for the near future; another aim is to write a book related to my educational background.”

As a Moslem, she prays that she will be able to go soon to Mecca to perform the Hajj, and perhaps even visit Switzerland one day.

“But equally important is my own family. I have two wonderful children, so my husband and I will ensure that they have an opportunity to get a good education for their own future.”

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