7 November 2018, SINGAPORE – L’Oréal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowship programme celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Established in 2009, the National Fellowship awards two researchers yearly in the field of Life Sciences and Physical and Engineering Sciences, who have shown scientific excellence in their career to date and in turn, become role models for the younger generation. Since its inception, the fellowship has been awarded to 22 women scientists who have gone on to achieve great success in their fields.
“We celebrate the 10th anniversary of the L’Oréal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowship programme, marking a milestone in one of the foremost and most prestigious programs for female scientists”, says Ms Isabelle Lim, Director of Corporate Communications at L’Oréal Singapore.
“At L’Oréal, Science is part of our DNA, and we hope to encourage women to pursue and maintain careers in the field of Science, an area where women are often unrepresented. This program supports their journey as they both juggle multiple roles as women, while still taking remarkable steps in advancing Science in their areas of research and work.”
Nanyang Assistant Professor Christine Cheung of Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technology University Singapore is the new recipient of the Life Sciences award. She is also a Joint Investigator at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB). Asst Professor Cheung’s work focuses on restoring blood vessel health to prevent adverse outcomes of diseases. She leads a team in inventing novel methods to convert human stem cells into vascular cells, opening the door to drug screening and regenerative medicine.
The Physical and Engineering Sciences fellow is President’s Assistant Professor Loh Huanqian, from the Department of Physics, and Principal Investigator, Centre of Quantum Technology, National University of Singapore. Asst Professor Loh’s work focuses on recreating advanced materials that comprise of quantum properties, for the development of new materials which can lead to better electronics and faster computers.
Both Assistant Professor Cheung and Assistant Professor Loh 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 led by the Jury President, Professor Christina Chai from the Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore (NUS), and Jury Consultant Professor Leo Tan, Chair of Science Sub-Commission, Singapore National Commission for UNESCO. The winners, Assistant Professor Cheung and Assistant Professor Loh, received their Fellowships from Ms Isabelle Lim, Director of Corporate Communications of L’Oréal Singapore, and Professor Christina Chai, Jury President, with the attendance of UNESCO, Singapore National Commission for UNESCO, and A*STAR at the award ceremony held at SKAI Swissotel Singapore on 7 November 2018.
More details about the winners and their research as follows:
Molecular and Vascular Medicine
Researcher: Assistant Professor Christine Cheung (Nanyang Assistant Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University Singapore; Joint Investigator, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR)
Research Content: Nanyang Assistant Professor Christine Cheung, 34 years old, is the new recipient of the 2018 Life Sciences Fellowship for her research on the genetic basis of vascular ageing. The crux of many ailments like stroke and dementia lies in blood vessels and understanding how blood vessels age forms the impetus for her research. She leads a team to invent novel methods of converting human stem cells into vascular cells, including those found in the brain or heart. These organ-specific vascular cells enables the study of why certain genetic disorders preferentially inflict vascular beds of specific organs, and also opens the door to drug screening and regenerative medicine through the development of personalized blood vessels.
“We are finding means to restore blood vessel health before adverse outcomes of diseases occur with the goal of working towards preventive medicine.”
Quantum Control of Ultracold Molecules
Researcher: Assistant Professor Loh Huanqian (President's Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, NUS; Principal Investigator, Centre for Quantum Technologies, NUS)
Research Content: With a research focus on the quantum control of ultracold molecules at the single-molecule, single- quantum-state level, NUS Assistant Professor Loh Huanqian, 35 years old, is awarded the 2018 Physical and Engineering Science fellowship. Advanced materials like superconductors revolutionize the electronics industry and renewable energy sector, but their microscopic-scale behavior remains poorly understood due to its strongly interacting quantum particles with dynamics that are impossible to calculate even with powerful computers. Assistant Professor Loh’s research directly recreates models of these materials from the bottom-up using ultracold molecules that comprise of quantum properties that can be precisely controlled by lasers and laboratory-applied fields. She have recently demonstrated record-long coherence times in these molecules, paving the way for using these molecules as quantum simulators of advanced materials.
“The idea that you can precisely control every quantum property of an atom or molecule is fascinating and powerful. I hope to use this control to create new materials that could lead to better electronics and faster computers.”
This year’s winning Fellows were selected by an esteemed jury, led by 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 Shawn Lim, Director, Advance Research Labs, L'Oréal Research & Innovation Singapore
Runners Up: The 2018 Life Science Finalists (not in order of merit)
a. Name/Designation: Dr Ng Shi Yan, Principal Investigator, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR; Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, National University of Singapore
Research Topic: Stem Cells and Neurotherapeutics
Research Summary: Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are valuable tools for dissecting disease mechanisms, and hold great promise for regenerative medicine. In Dr Ng’s laboratory, she used iPSCs derived from patients who suffer from neurodegeneration, and to understand identify why these patients are particularly vulnerable compared to those affected neuronal types. Her goal is to develop an effective treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), an age-onset motor neuron disease.
b. Name/Designation: Dr Sarah Ng, Head, Genome Innovation Lab, Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), A*STAR
Research topic: Longitudinal analysis of circulating tumour DNA to identify novel treatment windows for cancer
Research summary: Dr Ng’s research analyses serially collected cancer patient plasma samples, in order to infer tumour dynamics over time that correlate with clinical events. Using her developed sequencing methods for the accurate detection of circulating tumour DNA using unique molecular identifiers, the real-time surveillance of patient tumours will enable her to find new treatment windows for intervention, with the goal of forestalling cancer progression and advanced disease.
Runners Up: The 2018 Physical & Engineering Science Finalists (in no order of merit)
a. Name/Designation: Dr Yang Le, Research Scientist, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR
Research topic: Luminescent Materials: Towards A ‘Brighter’ Future.
Research summary: Smart living such as virtual reality, intelligent wearable sensors and gadgets require luminescence – in display, lighting or transmission. Dr Yang’s research interests aim to thoroughly exploit the photo physical mechanisms in materials, willfully control photon emission, and purposefully design devices towards sensible applications. Her most recent achievement on harnessing a new mechanism in a novel class of materials led to record-efficiency organic LEDs, bringing printable display technology to new heights. Her current research priorities cover “Beating the blues” in organic electroluminescence and pushing the envelope in visible light communications.
b. Name/Designation: Dr Pavitra Krishnaswamy, Head, Deep Learning for Healthcare Programme, Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), A*STAR
Research topic: Knowledge-Augmented Machine Learning for Healthcare Applications
Research summary: Artificial intelligence has the potential to reduce costs and improve outcomes in healthcare. This requires the integration of machine learning approaches that can detect nuanced patterns in massive clinical datasets, with domain knowledge that can enable non-apparent and actionable insights. Dr Krishnaswamy’s research advances hybrid approaches that integrate statistical learning and inference with domain knowledge for improved efficiency, accuracy, interpretability in medical imaging and clinical decision support applications. Her goal is to drive a future where AI can seamlessly leverage clinical data to generate and translate predictions to explainable insights and recommendations for end-user adoption.
For more information about each organisation:
The L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowship
The L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowship programme was established in 2009, and is organized with the support of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). The programme recognizes talented women researchers in the scientific field, and aims to encourage women to not only pursue and maintain careers in science; but actively participate in Singapore’s research and development sector as well. Since its inception in 2009, L’Oréal Singapore has consecutively awarded the fellowships over the past ten years; thus far, 22 women scientists have been honoured with fellowships. The fellows can use their grants with no restrictions. 20 Years of Supporting Women in Science Created in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships were established by the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation as the first international awards dedicated to women scientists around the world. 20 years later, the programme continues to be a benchmark of international scientific excellence and an invaluable source of motivation, support, as well as inspiration for women in the fields of science. Since it was founded in 1998, the program has honoured 102 Award Laureates (including three who went on to win the Nobel Prize), and supported more than 3,000 Fellows from over 117 countries - women who are making contributions in every field of research.
L’Oréal Singapore was established in 1990 and currently has around 20 international brands across luxury, masstige, consumer and hair categories. With more than 550 employees and a Research & Innovation Centre, L'Oréal Singapore is consistently voted as one of the top employers, and was ranked in Universum 2017 as the #1 FMCG Company to Work For. Since 2009, the For Women In Science programme is one key program that recognize talented young women pursuing research in Singapore, while Brandstorm has been leading the field as an innovation incubator for talents and projects since 2001. L’Oréal Singapore is also committed to sustainability, ethics and the community, with multiple initiatives that meet environmental, social and consumer needs. www.loreal.sg
Singapore National Commission for UNESCO
Since Singapore re-joined UNESCO in 2007, the Singapore National Commission (SNC) for UNESCO was set up to coordinate Singapore’s activities and programmes with UNESCO. The SNC was officially launched on 28 May 2008. The Education, Science, Culture and Information Sub- Commissions were established to support the mission of the SNC. Members of the National Commission and Sub-Commissions include representatives from government ministries, educational, scientific and cultural institutions, as well as relevant agencies and organisations. Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is Chairman of the SNC and Mrs Rosa Daniel, Deputy-Secretary (Culture) is the Secretary-General. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth serves as the SNC Secretariat. For more information on the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO, please visit www.unesco.sg.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society. As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability. We play a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and research entities, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR’s R&D activities span biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering, with research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis. For ongoing news, visit www.a-star.edu.sg.