School of Physics - Universiti Sains Malaysia

John Soo

 

john soo yue han

 Dr. John Soo Yue Han
 Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, USM 
 Room: 306 / Ext: 5326
 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Education

Employment History

2018-2024 - Contract Lecturer @ Universiti Sains Malaysia
2024-present - Senior Lecturer @ Universiti Sains Malaysia

Education History

2014-2018 - PhD Physics and Astronomy (Cosmology) @ University College London, UK
2010-2014 - BSc (Hons) Physics (with specialisation in Astrophysics) @ National University of Singapore
2008-2009 - STPM @ Sekolah Tinggi Kluang, Johor
2003-2007 - PMR & SPM @ SMK Tun Hussein Onn, Kluang, Johor
1997-2002 - PTS & UPSR @ SJK(C) Chong Eng, Kluang, Johor

Theses

PhD - Enhancing Photometric Redshifts for the Era of Precision Cosmology
BSc - f(T) Gravity Models and Cosmological Tests

Research

Research Area

My research specialises in the area of cosmology and computational astrophysics. My previous and current research work include:

  • Photometric Redshift Estimation Methods for Galaxies
    • Templates: CWW, COSMOS, Buzzard, Brown et. al. (2014)
    • Machine learning methods: artificial neural networks (ANNs), boosted decision trees (BDTs), k-nearest neighbours (KNNs) and Gaussian processes (GPs)
    • Algorithms: BPz, ANNz, ANNz2 and Delight
    • Focus: galaxy morphology, performance metrics, photometric quality, optimisations, calibrations, outliers
    • Surveys: Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), CFHT Stripe 82 (CS82), Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) and Physics of the Accelerating Universe Survey (PAUS)

I have been indirectly involved in the following research areas of my students:

  • Lunar Occultation
  • Solar Flares and Magnetic Reconnection Flux
  • Galaxy Classification using Convoluted Neural Networks (CNNs)
  • Astronomy Observatories in Malaysia

I am interested in the following topics as well:

  • Machine learning Applications in Physics and Astronomy
    • Comparison between different algorithms
    • Classification problems (star-galaxy, etc)
    • Relations (fundamental plane, photometric plane, etc)
    • Missing data problems
    • Applications in astrophysics (e.g. spectroscopy, galaxy morphology, solar physics and radio astronomy)
    • Applications in physics (e.g. geophysics, high energy and medical physics)
    • Clustering analysis in galaxy surveys
    • Dimensionality reduction and feature selection
  • Luminosity Function of Stars and Galaxies
  • Modified Gravity Models (particularly f(T) gravity)
  • Astronomy Education and Research in Malaysia

Masters & PhD Opportunities

Interested to do a research masters or PhD under my supervision? Kindly drop me an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., please include your academic transcript and CV too. Preference will be given to students with programming background.

15 Nov 2021: I'm looking for a masters/PhD student who is interested to do a research on the teaching of relativity in Malaysian universities. If you're interested in this project, please do let me know! 

Research Grants

2020-2023 - Short Term Research Grant by Universiti Sains Malaysia (RM 18 500)
2023-2026 - Fundamental Research Grant Scheme by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education (RM 97 000)

Teaching

Semester I

ZCE376/4 Astronomy Principles and Practices
This is the third of a series of four courses required to fulfil the minor in astronomy. In this course, we explore some big ideas in astronomy and astrophysics: principles, theories, equations and models of the processes and phenomena that govern the universe. Be prepared, as we may be using some deeper mathematics in order to better understand the following topics:

  1. Celestial Mechanics
  2. The Continuous Spectrum of Light
  3. The Theory of Special Relativity
  4. The Interaction of Light and Matter
  5. The Classification of Stellar Spectra
  6. Stellar Atmospheres
  7. The Interior of Stars
  8. Stellar Pulsation
  9. The Degenerate Remnants of Stars
  10. General Relativity and Black Holes
  11. Physical Processes in the Solar System
  12. The Nature of Galaxies
  13. Galactic Evolution
  14. The Structure of the Universe
  15. Classic Cosmology
  16. Modern Cosmology
  17. The Early Universe

Semester II

ZCE378/4 Radio Astronomy
This is the final of four courses in requirement to obtain the minor in astronomy. In this advanced course, you will learn everything about radio astronomy: its humble beginning, the principles and properties of radio waves, the equipment used to detect and analyse the radio signals, the celestial sources of radio signals and their impact on the advancement of astronomy. You will explore radio astronomy through the following topics:

  1. Radio Observations in Astronomy
  2. General Properties of Radio Waves
  3. Spectral Lines
  4. Radio Wave Propagation
  5. The Nature of Radio Signals
  6. Radiometers
  7. Spectrometers and Polarimeters
  8. Single-Aperture Radio Telescopes
  9. The Basics of Interferometry
  10. Aperture Synthesis
  11. Further Interferometric Techniques
  12. The Sun and the Planets
  13. Stars and Nebulae
  14. The Milky Way
  15. Pulsars
  16. Active Galaxies
  17. The Radio Contributions to Cosmology

WMU112/2 Artificial Intelligence Literacy
As an extension to WMU102 Makers@USM, this course aims to introduce students to hyperautomation, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). At the end of the course, students would have attained sufficient knowledge, developed skills and mastered tools that will prepare them for Industrial Revolution 4.0. This course also strengthens interpersonal skills through group projects related to the industry and community. Together with Dr Ong Wen Eng from the School of Mathematics, we will cover the following topics:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  3. Hyperautomation
  4. UiPath 1 - Introduction and Setup
  5. UiPath 2 - Demonstration and Hands-On
  6. Deep Learning and Neural Networks Components
  7. AI Project Planning

Semesters I & II

ZCT191/2 Physics Practical I/II
This is a compulsory course which has to be taken by all physics majors during their first year. This course aims to help students strengthen their understanding on various fundamental physics concepts through practical laboratory experiments. Students will learn how to use lab apparatus in the lab safely to produce comprehensive lab reports for the experiment. The following experiments are covered in this course:

  1. Error Analysis
  2. Basic Electrical Measurements
  3. Alternating Current Resonance
  4. Dynamics
  5. Projectile Motion
  6. Radioactivity
  7. Excitation and Ionisation Potentials
  8. Interference
  9. Geometrical Optics
  10. Thermoelectric Effect and Thermal Conductivity
  11. Lees' Disc

Courses Taught in the Past

ZCE275/4 Introduction to Astronomy
ZCE277/4 Structure of the Universe
HTV201/2 Thinking Techniques

Supervision

Ongoing

Al Shuaili Ishaq Yahya Khalfan (PhD)
Exploring the Synergy of Template and Machine Learning Methods to Improve Photometric Redshifts

Wilson Teoh Wei Sheng (PhD)
Improving Photometric Redshift Estimation Using the Fundamental Plane

Karthik Raja Selvan (PhD)
Improving Photometric Redshift Estimation for Faint Galaxies Using Morphological Parameters

Sanjivan Selvam (PhD)
Statistical Study of Hot X-Ray Onset Intervals in Solar Flares during Solar Cycles 22, 23 and 24

Imdad Mahmud Pathi (MSc)

Improving Photometric Redshifts by Studying the Activation Function Using Machine Learning

Lee Ming Wei (MSc)
Galaxy Morphological Classification and Structural Extraction of Spiral Galaxy by Using Convolutional Neural Network

Nurdiana Nabila Jamal Rozi (MSc) 
Functionality and Growth of Astronomical Observatories in Malaysia

Loo Kar Sin (MSc)
Modelling the Faint Young Sun's Luminosity on Primordial Earth's Surface
(A collaborative project with Dr Kuhan Chandru, UKM)

Graduated

Year Type Name  Project (Short Title)  
2024 BSc    
  BSc    
2023 BSc Nezzayle Joannes Chin
Nurul Adlin Azati Norizan
Photo-z & Star-Galaxy Separation with SVM
  BSc Rupashri Sathasivam ML Applications for the JCMT
2022 PhD Balamuralikrishna Kanniah   Solar Flares vs Magnetic Reconnection Flux  
  BSc Bryan Lee Zhun Jiin
Muhamad Ezkil Uzair
Photo-z's with LDA and FDA
  BSc Ng Wei Yi
Sharon Malodol @ Jamilon
Gravitational Wave Classification with DL
2021 BSc Abdullah Saud Fatmi
Luther Amal Johnson
Photo-z's with PDE-FOAM  
  BSc Chow Wen Iou
Teo Zhi Sheng
Star-Galaxy Classification with RC and PLE  
2020   BSc  Chai Wan Chie
Ku Nur Alia Ku Azhar 
Photo-z's with PDE-RS  
  BSc Md. Amirul Zafrin Panizan   Photo-z's with KNN
2019 MSc   Md. Daim Norharizan Lunar Occultation

USM Astrophysics Research Subgroup (2022)

In the School of Physics, the astrophysics research subgroup is partially parked under the Theoretical & Computational Physics Research Group, and the Geophysics, Astronomy and Atmospheric Science Research Group. The following is a poster created in 2022, showcasing the research work of some of our members. Please feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested to take up a postgraduate research degree in astrophysics.

Astrophysics Group Poster

Publication

Research Profiles

Selected Publications

K. A. Bala, M. R. Omar, J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2024). CNUCTRAN: A Program for Computing Final Nuclide Concentrations Using A Direct Simulation Approach. Computer Physics Communications, ?, ?. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpc.2024.109258.

G. Manzoni, ..., J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2024). The PAU Survey: A New Constraint on Galaxy Formation Models Using the Observed Colour Redshift Relation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 530(2), 1394. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stae659.

K. Balamuralikrishna, J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2023). Characterising Solar Magnetic Reconnection in Confined and Eruptive Flares. Astrophysics and Space Science, 368(11), 94. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10509-023-04251-w

J. Y. H. Soo, I. Y. K. Alshuaili, I. Mahmud Pathi (2023). Machine Learning Applications in Astrophysics: Photometric Redshift Estimation. AIP Conference Proceedings, 2576, 040001. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0140152

I. Y. K. Alshuaili, J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2022). Improving Photometric Redshifts by Merging Probability Density Functions from Template-Based and Machine Learning Algorithms. Astronomy Letters, 48(11), 657. https://doi.org/10.1134/S1063773722110019

J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2021). The PAU Survey: narrowband photometric redshifts using Gaussian processes. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 503(2), 4118. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stab711

J. Y. H. Soo & B. Joachimi (2021). Characterising improvements in photometric redshift probability density functions with galaxy morphology. AIP Conference Proceedings, 2319, 040002. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0037058

S. J. Schmidt, A. I. Malz, J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2020). Evaluation of probabilistic photometric redshift estimation approaches for The Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 499(2), 1587-1606. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa2799

J. Y. H. Soo et al. (2018). Morpho-z: improving photometric redshifts with galaxy morphology. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 475(3), 3613–3632. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx3201, data: ftp://ftp.star.ucl.ac.uk/johnsyh/cs82 [open using Windows Explorer]

Outreach

Srikandi Angkasa

Link: https://srikandiangkasa.com/virtualgallery/

Srikandi Angkasa is an effort by the National Planetarium to promote the stories and research work of the astrophysicists in Malaysia. The link will bring you to a virtual tour around the National Planetarium, where you can browse through the e-galleries with videos and profiles of the astrophysicists. My video was taken in 2022, it was an interview where I introduced the main gist of my research work: artificial intelligence applications in astronomy.

If you would just like to binge watch the videos, you can view through the playlist here.

Cool Student / External Projects

Sometimes I have a lot of cool ideas and projects in mind, but I couldn't do them all by myself. Thanks to some of my students' initiatives, or collaborations with others, together we have created some interesting and helpful codes / tutorials / presentations that could help educate the public in the fields of physics, astronomy and machine learning. Check out some of these projects below:

  1. Space Series by FrogAsia (2023): an online interactive lesson series on astronomy, made by our very own Malaysian astronomers and astrophysicists. In the lessons you may also find stories and research work by some of our Malaysians in the field of astrophysics! 
  2. Machine Learning Applications in Radio Astronomy by Rupashri Sathasivam (2023): an interactive presentation on the applications of machine learning in radio astronomy, brainstorming ideas that could potentially turn into research projects and papers!
  3. Almost Tensorial! by James Law Kah Chun (2022): a website that explains differential geometry and general relativity in a pedagogical manner, suitable for people who want to learn about GR but are scared of the mathematics!
  4. First ML by Chiam Joe Win (2020): A machine learning hands-on tutorial with a manual, providing an example for photometric redshifts.

Science v.s. Religion

Many say that science and religion are not able to co-exist together, but I beg to differ. As a Christian and a cosmologist, I enjoy talking to people about science and religion (focusing mostly on Christianity) and making people realise that there are so many things we don't know and will never be able to know about.

If you have an audience interested to listen to topics like Science in the Scriptures or Big Bang vs Creation, please do contact me directly, and I will share with you the list of topics I offer. As of 2022, I have given 6 talks related to these topics in different church and student groups. The talks can be given in either English or Mandarin Chinese.

Physics and Astronomy Outreach

Did you know: Penang is probably the most active state when it comes to amateur astronomy! As an astronomy lecturer, I enjoy bringing astronomy-related activities to the community, hoping that we can all learn to appreciate the impact of astronomy in our modern society. I wish that we can all appreciate the beauty and mystery of the universe we live in, together!

I'm actually involved in many astronomy outreach programmes in Penang, here's how you can get us / join us:

  • Astronomical Society of Penang (ASP): Led by retired USM lecturer Dr Chong Hon Yew, ASP should be first on your list when it comes to astronomy workshops, observations and activities! Come and join us, become a member, and you'll get exclusive excess to many astronomy talks, trips and workshops. We organise star-gazing activities at Karpal Singh Drive almost every Saturday night @ 9 pm.
  • Astronomy and Atmospheric Science Research Unit (UPIFSA): Led by Dr Azwin Ismail, UPIFSA is a group of USM staff dedicated to spreading the love of astronomy to schools and the public. Our specialty is our portable mini astronomical observatory, we can bring our dome to your premises for a day of fun!
  • USM Astronomy Club (KAUSM): I was the club advisor from 2019-2022; if you would like to have a bunch of enthusiastic students conduct an astronomical event for you, please do get in touch with them! During term time, they organise plenty of astronomy talks, games and star-gazing sessions for you to join.

On a personal capacity, I give astronomy talks (topics on cosmology, Solar System, relativity, etc) and provide guidance on graduate school applications or career paths in astronomy. Please feel free to contact me personally if you have any further enquiries. The following are some astronomy talks / panel discussions that I have participated in the past:

Further Mathematics T Blog

Link: http://furthermathematicst.blogspot.com/

Further Mathematics T was an STPM subject offered to students prior to 2014. At that time, Further Mathematics T wasn't officially taught in any government high school, therefore students who were interested in the subject had to study it by themselves, without the help of teachers and official textbooks. I took Further Mathematics T as my 5th subject in 2009, after that I worked on compiling all my resources as a series of notes to be shared online via a blog. I completed the blog in 2012, however the Further Mathematics T syllabus was revamped in 2013, and later discontinued in 2014. The blog is still there for anyone to read, I still find some of the info there helpful to my work, off and on.

For Students

Lab Report and Data Analysis

Here I provide some downloadable articles that I've written to help physics students in regards to data analysis, error analysis and report writing.

Postgraduate Opportunities in Physics / Astronomy

Postgraduate Scholarships / Grants

Physics / Astronomy Summer Programmes

Some of these summer programmes and conferences are specific to a certain year, but please feel free to browse through their website for the latest updates. 

Physics / Astronomy Conferences

Dr. John's "How-To" Series

Physics / Astronomy Competitions

Here are some international physics / astronomy-related competitions you can join. For undergraduate student competitions, please contact me if you would like me to be your project supervisor / faculty sponsor.

Undergraduate Students
Primary / Secondary / High School Students

Industrial Internship Opportunities

Here are some companies whom I have gotten in touch before, please feel free to browse their websites for any current job or internship opportunities.

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The Dean, School of Physics,
Universiti Sains Malaysia,
11800 USM,
Penang, Malaysia

Tel : 604 653 3200  |  Fax: 604 657 9150  |   Email :  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. |