Two From Southeast Asia Win Science Prize for Women 2021

For working to achieve clean water and clean air, Singapore’s Dr. Li Hongying and Indonesia’s Dr. Neni Sintawardani have won the Underwriters Laboratory-ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2021.

AsianScientist (Nov. 5, 2021) – Dr. Li Hongying from Singapore and Dr. Neni Sintawardani from Indonesia have been honored with the Underwriters Laboratory-ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2021. The winners were announced last October 13.

Since 2015, the ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation—in partnership with the US Agency for International Development and global nonprofit Underwriters Laboratories—annually launches the Science Prize for Women to recognize the achievements of female scientists across Southeast Asia.

Candidates can come from a wide range of STEM backgrounds, from academia to public and private sector to civil society organizations. By spotlighting their success, the award hopes to spark further research endeavors and inspire future ASEAN women in STEM.

This year’s prize theme ‘Clean Air & Water’ highlights how scientists are innovating solutions to tackle urgent environmental concerns, with about 110 million people lacking access to safe drinking water in Southeast Asia. With the region’s rapid urbanization, alarming air pollution levels could also threaten quality of life, linked with health issues like lung and heart diseases.

To address against these pressing concerns, Sintawardani—lead researcher of the Clean Technology team at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences—spearheaded the development of a biogas plant to filter toxic gases like methane and carbon dioxide from factory wastewater streams.

By treating the water while converting energy in the gas into electricity, her work has helped improve community sanitation systems and increase clean water availability in Indonesia, where over 20 million people lack access to safe water. For her impactful contributions, Sintawardani garnered the Science Prize for Women in the senior scientist category.

For the mid-career scientist category, the winning researcher, Li, hails from the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Through computational fluid dynamics models, which are powerful algorithms that predict how fluids flow, she is tackling both pollution in marine ecosystems and airborne disease transmission.

To protect marine life, Li’s models led to designing the highly efficient Semb-Eco Ballast Water Management System, which treats ballast water discharge before it flows out to sea. She also performed modeling work to simulate how droplets are dispersed in the air, helping estimate COVID-19 transmission risks.

Meanwhile, honorable mentions were conferred to Dr. Aduwati Sali from Universiti Putra Malaysia and Dr. Seinn Lei Aye from Myanmar’s University of Yangong in the mid-career and senior scientist categories, respectively. National finalists were also chosen and recognized for each of the 10 ASEAN member states.


Source: Science Prize For Women; Illustration: Ajun Chuah/Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

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