Two female scientists have been awarded the prestigious 2017 national fellowships for the L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowship (FWIS) programme. Held annually in its 9th year, Dr Sherry Aw, Independent Fellow at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Assistant Professor Dawn Tan from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are the new recipients for the award.
Both Dr Aw and Assistant Professor Tan will walk away with a research grant of SGD$30,000 each, as they join the ranks of more than 275 talented young women scientists awarded globally each year. They were selected based on criteria that involves intellectual merit, research proposals, potential for scientific advancement and relevance to innovative scientific solutions to problems confronting current issues.
Both fellows were selected by a 7-member jury, which featured a female jury president for the first time. The new female jury president is Professor Christina Chai, from the Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore (NUS).
More details about the winners and their research as follows:
Conducting Genetic Experiments to Develop New Treatments for Neurodegenerative Diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease
Researcher: Dr Sherry Aw (Independent Fellow, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR)
Research Content: IMCB’s Independent Fellow Sherry Aw, 35 years old, is awarded the 2017 Life Science Fellowship for her research to investigate on the genes and cell mechanisms behind the pathological tremor that comes with neurodegenerative diseases, by using the fruitfly Drosophila. With rising concerns amongst the aging society about these diseases, Dr Aw uses genetics, molecular and imaging techniques to find the causes and potential treatment with Drosophila, which shares 60% of human genes.
In the aging society of today, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease are of increasing importance. The fruitfly Drosophila can also exhibit neurodegeneration. Although Drosophila have almost a million-fold fewer brain cells than humans, it shares 60% of our genes, thus making it a simple and useful model to understand genes, proteins and cell mechanisms that underlie brain functions and diseases. In 2017, Drosophila research has won six Nobel prizes, including the Medicine prize. In her research, she uses genetics and other molecular and imaging techniques to manipulate and look into these tiny fly brains, to find the causes of and potential treatments for neurodegeneration.
“Find people who support and cheer your successes, and remember to also be that person for someone else.”
Harnessing Nonlinear Photonics for a faster, cost-effective and power-efficient internet network
Researcher: Dr Dawn Tan (Assistant Professor, Singapore University of Technology and Design)
Research Content: Working towards improving our internet network, SUTD’s Assistant Professor Dawn Tan, 35 years old, is awarded the 2017 Physical and Engineering Science fellowship. Dr Tan’s research studies provides better convenience as she works towards changing the fiber channel to carry and restore data requested by multiple people. She converts electrical data into optical form, simplifying its complex value chain to create an internet network which saves time and energy.
Internet data goes through a complex value chain of electronics and photonics before it is received by its intended recipient. Electrical data needs to be converted into optical form, propagated long haul through optical fiber before it is restored and detected at the receiver. Her research studies new types of lasers, light emitters and amplifiers, that allow more than one stream of data to be driven and carried on that same fiber. Instead of the fiber channel carrying data requested by one person, it could be engineered to carry and restore data requested by multiple people. This allows the internet network to be cost and power efficient, and to be much faster.
“Harnessing Science and Engineering to solve problems and create new knowledge is my passion, and hopefully highlights the fulfillment young women can have in a Science and Engineering career.”
Established since 2009, the L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowships are awarded to women who have shown scientific excellence in their career to date. The Fellowship also identifies exceptional female scientists to be role models for the younger generations.
“Women account for 28% of the world’s researchers. At L’Oréal, where our work is deeply ingrained in science and research, we believe that there is still much we can do to accelerate the advancement of young women in science globally,” says Mr Henric Sark, Country Manager at L’Oréal Singapore. “As part of our ‘For Women in Science’ program, L’Oréal Singapore has since supported and recognized 18 accomplished women researchers since the programme’s establishment in 2009, in aiding the winners to obtain positions of responsibility, just like their male counterparts.”
“By empowering these women scientists such as Sherry and Dawn this year, we hope it will encourage the younger generations to follow their example and come forth to pursue their passion to find new ways to make the world a better place,” he adds.
This year’s winning Fellows were selected by an esteemed jury, led by its first-ever female jury president, Professor Christina Chai, Head of Department, Department of Pharmacy, NUS. The other members are:
• Prof Leo Tan, Chairman, Science Sub-Commission Singapore National Commission for UNESCO & Director (Special Projects), Faculty of Science, NUS
• Assoc Professor Gan Chee Lip, Director, Renaissance Engineering Programme & Director, Temasek Laboratories, NTU
• Assoc Professor Low Hong Yee, Engineering Product Development, SUTD
• Dr Lisa Ng, Senior Principal Investigator, Laboratory of Microbial Immunity, Singapore Immunology Network, A*STAR
• Dr Mark Phong, Asia Director Advanced Research Labs and Business Development, L'Oréal Research & Innovation
The winners, Dr Aw and Assistant Professor Tan, received their grants from Mr Henric Sark, Managing Director of L’Oréal Singapore, and Professor Christina Chai, Jury President, at the L’Oréal Singapore For Women in Science award ceremony held at Tower Club on November 27.