The Trailblazer – Professor Alia Sabur, by Israel Ayanwuyi

Alia Sabur was born on February 22, 1989 to the family of Mark-Julie Sabur.  She holds the record for being the world’s youngest person to attain professorship— as of now, 15 June 2018, she is 29 years 113days old.   She broke nearly 300 years previous record held by Colin Maclaurin, a Scottish mathematician and student of Isaac Newton who became professor at the age of 19, in 1717.  An American by nationality with the net worth estimated to be in the range of $2, 172, 347 in 2018, according to vipfaq. The estimated net worth includes stocks, properties, and luxury goods such as private aircrafts and yachts.  Interest: Tae Kwon Do, Clarinet, Traveling (US, Europe, Middle East, Asia, including to study abroads), Origami, Reading.  Religion: Not certain and publicly discussed but her name, Alia and surname, Sabur are Muslim names.  Alia— Arabic feminine form of Ali which means “Exalted or Supreme” Alia is also one of the 99th attributes of Prophet Mohammed. Sabur— Muslim/Arabic boy name which means “Patience or Endurance” Facebook name – Alia Sabur

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The father of Alia Sabur is Mohammed Sabur, a Pakistan native who later changed his name to Mark Sabur. He got married to Julie Sabur whose maiden name was Julie Kessler in 1980. Julie Sabur and Mark Sabur met and grew up together in New York until they moved to Philadelphia in 2004, where they live in the United States. Alia Sabur’s father works as an Electrical Engineer.  They gave birth to Alia Sabur who is their only daughter after 9 years of their marriage. Her mother, Julie Sabur, worked as a reporter for News12 Long Island until 1995, when she stopped the job of TV reporter and started taking care of Alia’s education full time and escorting her to college classes after the discovery of her special giftedness.


Alia Sabur started to read and speak when she was eight months old. She suddenly burst out with words, recognition of—street signs, cars, food in the supermarket, books, and others. She went to a regular preschool in the neighbourhood—where they lived in Long Island. By the time she was three years old, she started asking for a learning school. Her parents were sort of—cajoled her, because they felt that she needed to be in normal school. So she did, and she got the right amount of socialization. She found it weird but when the students would sit in a group and the teacher would write the words on a blackboard, Alia could read the words and the others couldn’t. Mentally, she didn’t make a big deal of this. She just thought, “Oh well, I can and they can’t. No big deal.” She was just a little kid. They visited another preschool where they had computers in the library because Alia wanted to go to the learning school with the computers. The elementary school in their district told them that she should go there, because the kindergarten she was in was not academical at all—they would just be teaching kids the letters of the alphabet, and that was not the place for her. After preschool she would go with her dad to the library, where she read and played with computers and puzzles and had a little reading group with kids who were older than her and that seemed to be okay in bringing her up socially. When she started to read novels, she was two years old, they thought it was cool but a little weird. She was really interested in science, so she would read her dad’s Popular Mechanics. She became really interested in nuts and bolts and how things worked. She would watch a lot of do-it-yourself TV that show about construction and home repair. She read the Time-Life books and became fascinated with all aspects of science, from astronomy to mechanical engineering. She later became very interested in theoretical physics and additionally, applied physics. Her fascination was in how things work and it ended up manifesting itself in physics and maths.  Alia completed her primary-school curriculum at the age of five in the Dickinson Avenue Elementary School. The best private school in New York, where she is from, felt Alia was too intelligent to be accommodated. The principal of her elementary school ended up taking some risk in her by sending her to high school at the age of 6 but she did not feel anything special in herself apart her smartness. For the 1995-1996 school year, the school placed her in the first grade with children of her own age for art, physical education, music and lunch, while allowing her to spend time with older students in the areas of reading and mathematics.  For the 1996-1997 school year, Alia entered the second grade and continued with her individually-tailored curriculum in mathematics and computer science while she remained with her second grade classmates for half of the day. In June of 1997, the Saburs requested that the School District provide Alia with a long-term education plan. For the 1997-1998 school year, Alia entered the third grade. During this school year, Alia took a class in physical science at the Northport middle school. There, Alia encountered older students who occasionally ridiculed and harassed her. Also, Alia continued to receive individual instruction at Dickinson. By the fall of 1998, the School District offered the Saburs a choice: either agree to have Alia take math and science in a ninth grade class or have Alia remain in a fourth grade class for these subjects. The Saburs chose to keep Alia in the fourth grade for the 1998-1999 school year.  However, Alia jumped into university from 4th grade, in 1999 at the age of 10, and 4 years later, she became the youngest female who earned Bachelor degree from the university college of Stony Brook University, New York. Bachelor of science, summa cum laude in Applied Mathematics, 2003. And she had her Masters degree from, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, 2006. Ph.D. studies in Materials Science and Engineering, 2004-2008.


Guinness Book of World Records as Youngest Professor, 2008. Delegate to Asia Society Young Leaders Summit, Tokyo, Japan 2008. Global Human Resources Forum, Invited Speaker, Seoul, S. Korea 2008. Accepted: NDSEG (Dept. of Defense) Fellowship, Dean’s Fellowship, 2004. Awarded: GAANN, NASA, NSF (hon. mention) 2004 AFRL, Edwards Air Force Base, research rotation, 2004. Golden Key International Honour Society, Top Senior Award 2003.


The young Alia was learning music after the end of first grade, firstly the Recorder, then the Clarinet studies with Ricardo Morales from 1999 to 2007. She was a principal clarinetist of Philadelphia Orchestra for 8 years. Alia had additional studies with David Weber from 2002 to 2003, clarinet pedagogue, and other world renowned musicians. Alia has been performing with orchestras since her solo debut at 11. She made it her mission to play the “Clarinet Concerto”, and eventually she attended Juilliard Pre-College of Music and Mannes Preparatory School (on scholarship performing seat). Participated in many ensembles as principal clarinet and member of the New York Youth Symphony for three years, the Stony Brook University Orchestra for two years, and the Clarinet Choir of the Korea National University of the Arts. Performances: Five solos with orchestras, including the Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto at age 11 with the Rockland Symphony Orchestra. Others include performances with Lang Lang and Smash Mouth, numerous solo and chamber concerts, and organizing a World Peace event at Drexel University to perform “Jerusalem” with members Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis Institute.  Recordings: Rabaud Solo de Concours 2005 “Jerusalem” at Drexel concert for World Peace 2005. Saint-Saens Sonata 1st Mvt 2003.   She enjoys performing as an orchestral member, chamber musician and soloist equally, and she is venturing into crossover, jazz and fusion. Awards: Named a Yamaha Young Performing Artist (the youngest ever), a C.W. Post Tilles Scholar at age 9, and winner of the Greenwich Village Orchestra and Oklahoma University Clarinet Symposium competitions. “You can reach a lot of people with music.” — Alia Sabur.


Alia started doing Tae kwon do when she was six years old and got her black belt when she was 9 years old. This happened at her ninth birthday party, so some people do say she got it when she was 8 years old. For the entire year of fourth grade she did nothing because she was stuck in. She started doing calligraphy and that was the same year she really worked on her clarinet, and even got her BLACK BELT in Tae Kwon do.


About music, she said “music has been a really important part of my life for about as long as I can remember” “Even besides just my feelings on music, the fact that I have been part of groups of musicians and participating in orchestras and performances for so long has definitely shaped the kind of people I am with and the time I spend.” “I cannot imagine how things would have turned out if I had not been involved in it at all because so many things that I did for so long were influenced by that.”  About life, she said, “I want to make the world a better place and I will use all my abilities to do that, including my intelligence, but I don’t feel it gives me a responsibility to do anything in particular. An high IQ, she argues, is not an obstacle to living a normal life” “The same way that an athlete doesn’t display their talents while spending time with friends but isn’t considered to be ‘suspending’ their abilities, I don’t ‘suspend’ my intelligence” she said “It’s part of who I am, and I don’t feel the need to prove that I’m smart, or hide it either.”


As she grown up, Alia’s become increasingly interested in using her considerable talents to help others. She was teaching in Korea around 2011, but before that, in 2007, she took a temporary position of Assistant Professor of Maths and Physics at Southern University, New Orleans, till 2008 where she helped the relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. So when she learnt that Southern University at New Orleans, a historically Black public college was the only college still operating out of trailers, she accepted the temporary position. She was appointed as a full-time faculty Professor of the department of Advanced Technology Fusion at Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea, with the effect from 19 February 2008, when she aged 18 years 362 days with the official title: International Professor as Research Liason with Stony Brook University (New York, USA). She began her position at the Department of Advanced Technology Fusion at Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea, from 2008 to 2009 and she chose not to renew the one year contract. She returned to her hometown, New York in later 2009.


Alia’s field is Materials Science with the doctoral advisor, Selcuk Guceri who lives in San Antonio, TX. He is from Moorestown, New Jersey. Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Worcester Polytechnic Institute, known as WPI Engineering. He spent 10 years as Dean of Engineering at Drexel University, before 2011. WITH THE OFFICE LOCATION Higgins Lab 109. CONTACT INFORMATION Phone: +1-508-831-4692 RELATED SCIENTISTS to Alia Sabur are Mark Embree , Vladimir Yevseyevich Zuev, Tony J. Pitcher , Rafael E. López-Corvo and Ramesh K. Agarwal  In 2009, Alia Sabur worked on nano technology—It involve developing nanotube based cellular probes for medical research and studying cures and effective treatments for all kinds of diseases. On June 3, 2010 she spent time to devise a solution/fix down for plugging the BP’s oil well/slick in the Gulf. She also worked to develop non-invasive optical blood glucose meters for people with diabetes. She, also worked passionately in helping to improve the quality of STEM education in America. Selected Undergraduate and Graduate Activities Served as Panelist, Graduate Fellowship Workshop, Drexel University and Drexel Materials Characterization Facility Talk: SERS in Nanotechnology Superuser for the Raman Spectrometer at the Drexel Characterization Facility Presented at the Celebration of Undergraduate Achievements four years, including projects in Applied Math, Physics. Presentations: 1. VIGRE research grant and Presidential Scholarship Scientific Articles and Conference Presentations Sabur, A.; Havel, M.; Gogotsi, Y. 2. SERS intensity optimization by controlling the synthesis of faceted gold nanoparticles. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 2008, 39, 61-67. Sabur, A.; 3. Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Carbon Nanotube Based Cellular Probes. AZojono 2007, 3. Mattia, D.; Korneva, G.; Sabur, A.; Friedman, G.; Gogotsi, Y. 4. Multifunctional carbon nanotubes with nanoparticles embedded in their walls. Nanotechnology 2007, (18), 155305. Layton, B.; D’Souza, A.; Zeiger, A.; Sabur, A.; Dampier, W. 5. Does collagen’s triglycine repeat length explain an interdomain transfer event from a eukaryote into Trichodesmium erythraeum? Journal of Molecular Evolution, 2008, 66 (6)539-554. Five conference presentations and posters at annual meetings of the Materials Research Society, the American Chemical Society, and the Optical Society of America, three as presenting author. Motivational Speaking: 15 talks given; 8 to K-12 and college students in the US, Korea, and Malaysia, and 7 as a keynote or invited speaker to youth groups, educational forums, and professional organizations such as the Global Human Resources Forum, the National Council of Youth Organizations in Korea, and the FIRST Robotics Championship.


In 2008, Sabur filed a civil suit against Drexel University, claiming that the university engaged in fraud and defamation regarding Sabur’s pursuit of a doctoral degree. In the suit, Sabur charges that Yury Gogotsi, her former Ph.D. advisor, improperly used her research to apply for grants, and deliberately obstructed her degree. Trial proceedings began on August 9, 2010. She was exonerated from all wrongdoing and falsely accused—It’s in binding arbitration. This happened when she was eighteen, and she was devastated. She has been studying science since she was two years old. This made her realize that some scientists are more focused on greed and selfishness. They are not there to teach. They kill and murder each other to get more money for research.    Right now PhD students are not protected by the law, and their advisers have absolutely no one to answer to—they are totally autonomous. So Alia decided to get a law degree— in 2011, she was in her first year at Georgetown—to see if there was some way that she can change that, and give people some way of protecting their research work. This is the second lawsuit involving the Sabur family. In the previous one Alia Sabur’s parents brought suit on behalf of their daughter and alleged that defendants board of education, its members, and the school district failed to provide their daughter with appropriate educational services in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Whereas, six of the seven counts were dismissed that time, in 1998.


Newspaper: New York Post 1999-2010, Newsday 1997-2005, April 2008, The Independent May 2008, Korea Times April 2008, Hi Magazine 2005, The Star Ledger June 2005, Metro Philadelphia July 2005, Teen People April 2005, Washington Post March 2004, Philadelphia Inquirer January 2004, Glamour Magazine August 2003, and New York Times January 2003.  TV: WWL Morning News May 2008, Fox Redeye April 2008, Montel July 2006, CNN Sunday April 2005, Deborah Norville Tonight January 2004, CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight March 2004, Jimmy Kimmel Live July 2003, The View May 2003, Today Show May 2003, Rosie O’Donnell Show 1999, 1999 Local News.  Radio: NPR, BBC, CBC, Voice of America, Arirang, WCBS (many time), Wins.  Magazines: Science, Spot On, Glamour (twice), Cosmopolitan (twice), TeenPeople, Time Out New York, Time for Kids, and

PRIMARY SOURCES 1. 2. Google 3. Julie Sabur 4.

© AYANWUYI, Israel Temitope  In June, 2018. Phone number: +234 703 2932 463 Website:

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