AsianScientist (Dec. 15, 2022) – Singapore has awarded two researchers with the prestigious 2022 President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA). The recipients were recognized for their invaluable contributions to the city-state’s biomedical and sustainability efforts. They were honored at a ceremony held on December 9, 2022 at The Istana—the official residence and office of the president of Singapore.
Originally launched as the National Science and Technology Awards in 1987, the PSTA is made up of three different awards—the President’s Science and Technology Medal, the President’s Science Award and the President’s Technology Award. These awards are the highest honor conferred upon research scientists and engineers in Singapore whose work has led to significant scientific, technological or economic benefits for the country.
The President’s Science and Technology Medal was awarded to Professor Hong Wanjin, executive director of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Hong was recognized for his vital role in driving Singapore’s biomedical research sector as well as his dedication to fostering partnerships within the nation’s biomedical ecosystem.
Hong moved to Singapore and joined A*STAR’s IMCB over 30 years ago in 1989. He found success for his work in protein transport and eventually rose through the ranks to lead the institute in 2011.
Over the last decade, Hong has facilitated partnerships between the academic, public and clinical sectors. His efforts have resulted in more efficient translation of research from bench to bedside. Under his leadership, IMCB has seen 15 spin-off companies in the last seven years—each poised to benefit patients in Singapore.
The President’s Technology Award was awarded to Professor Wang Rong, chair in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Nanyang Technological University and founder of start-ups H2MO Technology and Aromatec.
Wang was recognized for her significant contributions to the field of membrane science and technology. Over the course of her career, she has developed novel membranes that can be used for applications like desalination, water reclamation, wastewater treatment, liquid purification and gas separation.
Like Hong, she has also leveraged successful partnerships to bring her work out of the lab and into the field by working with government agencies and industry partners. Significantly, Wang’s research has made waves as a part of Singapore’s NEWater effort.
Part of the country’s water resilience and sustainability goals, NEWater is treated and purified reclaimed water that is ultra-clean and safe to drink. The reclaimed water is purified using advanced membrane technologies and ultra-violet disinfection. Wang’s research led to the development of a novel bio-programmable hollow fiber reverse osmosis membrane, resulting in significant energy savings during the water treatment process. The process can also be adapted for other water purification processes.
Wang is a leader in the field and currently holds the positions of Editor-in-Chief at the Journal of Membrane Science, the flagship journal for the global membrane community, as well as President of the Aseanian Membrane Society.
The awards ceremony also honored recipients of the Young Scientist Awards (YSA), organized by the Singapore National Academy of Sciences and supported by A*STAR. The YSA is conferred to researchers aged 35 and below who are actively engaged in research and development in Singapore and show promise to become world-class researchers in their fields. Dr Bi Renzhe from A*STAR and Dr Koh Ming Joo from the National University of Singapore were awarded for their work in bio-optical technologies and chemical synthesis respectively.
Bi’s work developing novel bio-optical technologies and translating medical technology innovations for disease diagnostics has the potential to greatly improve diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer. His research has since resulted in three patents with Singapore-based medical technology companies.
Koh was awarded for his research in sustainable catalysis and radical chemistry. His work has resulted in cheaper and more efficient catalysts and reagents for better chemical synthesis. His research has been translated into efficient feedstock chemicals and he owns several patents. Some of these patents have been licensed by a major Swiss-based company for use across chemical sectors like agriculture, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
Source: The President’s Science and Technology Awards, A*STAR ; Images: A*STAR
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