Dr. Show Pau Loke
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
AsianScientist (Mar. 20, 2017) – Show Pau Loke is in a hurry to change the bioprocessing industry. Already an associate professor just four years out of his PhD program, he has quickly made his mark, winning the 2016 Young Chemical Engineer in Research Award given by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.
With a patent for green and cost-effective protein recovery method under his belt, Show is raring to take on the challenges faced by the biotechnology industry. Find out more about about his plans for the future in the interview below.
- How would you summarize your research in a tweet (140 characters)?
My research seeks to integrate biology and chemical engineering processing to minimize the cost, time, energy and waste for industrial application.
- Describe a completed research project that you are proudest of.
I obtained my PhD in bioprocessing engineering from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). I was fortunate to be the youngest student to graduate within three years under the MSc-to-PhD programs. Right after my PhD, I offered an Assistant Professor position at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC).
My PhD is grounded in theories and methods found in the field of biochemistry and bioprocess engineering, with applications in biotechnology and nano-pharmaceuticals industries. Over the last four years, I have been promoted to Associate Professor, published about 50 high impact journal articles and participated in numerous international conferences, including invited and peer-reviewed oral presentations.
I have also successfully obtained more than 12 research grants from both government organizations and universities, fully utilized them to ensure maximum research output. One my research achievements is an invention of green and cost-effective protein recovery system called aqueous two-phase flotation (ATPF). This method is an advance technique that integrates two older methods, the aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) and the bubble method. This new invention is able to recover 99.99 percent of the protein in aqueous extracts. The ATPF has been patented and has already been applied by industry.
- What do you hope to accomplish with your research in the next decade?
I started my own research career only about four years ago, and I hope to establish my own area of research within the next decade. At this moment, I am deeply interested in improving bioprocessing and looking for new methods which can solve the problems face by industry.
What is more, I hope to develop firm collaborations with scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and experts from various fields, engaging in interesting and socially-relevant work.
- Who (or what) motivated you to go into your field of study?
I have always been interested in the topic of bioprocessing engineering. My doctoral thesis advisors, Professor Ling Tau Chuan at the University of Malaya and Dr. Mohd Shamsul Anuar at UPM, are both leading experts in bio-separation engineering. They influenced me to consider industrial challenges in my research.
I consider myself very lucky to have so many excellent collaborators, including Associate Professor John Lan Chi Wei from Yuan Ze University, Distinguished Professor and University Chair Chang Jo-Shu of the National Cheng Kung University and Dr. Edward Ooi Chien Wei of Monash University (Australia) among others.
- What is the biggest adversity that you experienced in your research?
In Malaysia, local grants are usually small, and only last for a year or two. It is difficult to plan good research projects with such short-term and low funding. I would say that the biggest adversity has been the lack of infrastructural support for vertebrate research in my institute. When I started my career in the department of chemical and environmental engineering, I was one of only two biochemical engineers at the department, and this meant that we had to pretty much build everything from scratch.
- What are the biggest challenges facing the academic research community today, and how can we fix them?
As a lecturer at the university, I need to divide my time among many different roles and functions, such as teaching, research and administration. Universities should create multiple tracks so that we can do what we are good at. At work, I am a researcher, teacher and administrator; back at home, I’m the husband to my wife, father of my children and son of my parents. It is a big challenge for me to have work-life balance. What I can say, time management is very important.
- If you had not become a scientist, what would you have become instead?
I’ve always wished to commercialize my research but just have no time to do it. So I would be a businessman if I were not a scientist.
- Outside of work, what do you do to relax?
I love my family. Spending time with my parents, wife and children is the most relaxing for me outside of work.
- If you had the power and resources to eradicate any world problem using your research, which one would you solve?
Complex, expensive and time-consuming downstream bioprocessing is the main problem in the biotechnology industry. I hope that with the power and resources, I can invent a simple, low cost and fast method to overcome this global issue.
- What advice would you give to aspiring researchers in Asia?
Life is short, please appreciate everything you have and people around you. Let’s work together to create better life for our future.
This article is from a monthly series called Asia’s Rising Scientists. Click here to read other articles in the series.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Show Pau Loke.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.