The evening of 15th December 2016 marked a wonderful end of day for Dr Wan Yue and Asst. Professor Shao Huilin, who were honoured with the L'Oréal Singapore National Fellowships for the year of 2016.
At the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in National University of Singapore (NUS), people are gathered to witness the women acknowledged for their contributions to the field of life sciences, as well as physical and engineering science.
The L'Oréal Singapore For Women In Science (FWIS) National Fellowships are organized with the support of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO and in the partnership with A*STAR. Annually, it offers two fellowships, worth $30,000 each, in the fields of Life Science as well as Physical & Engineering Science. This year, the two recipients of the L'Oréal Singapore National Fellowships were determined by a jury panel that comprised Professor Leo Tan from NUS, Dr Christina Chai, Dr Low Hong Yee, Dr Ho Ghim Wei, and Dr Mark Phong.
Dr Wan Yue was surprised when she was declared as the recipient of the 2016 L'Oréal Singapore FWIS National Fellowship in the field of Life Science. As a senior research scientist in the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), A*STAR, she focuses on targeting infectious diseases through RNA molecules. On stage, she thanked the jury panel as well as L'Oréal for giving her the opportunity to be honoured as the fellow for 2016.
“It would not be possible to be where I am without the support from my family to pursue my dream.”
Dr Wan Yue realised the issue of the lack of female scientists at the top levels of science after obtaining her own independent position. The issue is complex, and she felt a lack of support during every single stage of the development in the career of female scientists.
“I hope that as a community, we will be able to support young females along their career journey to eventually becoming top scientists, to impart in the resilience and strength to fight for their aspiration, and to fill the gap of women in science.”
The 2016 FWIS National Fellowship in the field of Physical and Engineering Science went to Dr Shao Huilin, who is assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, NUS. She also holds the post of Principal Investigator at NUS’s Biomedical Institute for Global Health Research & Technology (BIGHEART) and is Joint Investigator for Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at A*STAR.
She was pleasantly surprised as well and thanked her academic advisors who had helped her tremendously during her PhD and also post-doctoral studies. She said,
“In pursuing interdisciplinary science, which is very much my personal research interest, I also thank my team, my research group and my department, and my family for giving me all this support.”
The other two finalists for FWIS Life Science National Fellowship 2016 were Dr Astrid Irwanto, GIS Innovation Fellow from the Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR, who researched on personalised medicine from laboratory to genetic testing; and Dr Kathy Su, a postdoctoral research fellow from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS, who conducted research on the origins of the morphological novelty of insects and flies. In the field of Physical and Engineering Science, the finalists included Dr. Ge Tong, Senior Research Scientist, School of Electical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), whose research focused on developing a new generation of personalised audio devices; and Dr. Tan Yen Nee, Program Manager, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*STAR and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, NUS.
Mr. Henric Sark, Managing Director of L'Oréal Singapore, spoke at the ceremony on the awards. “L'Oréal Singapore is proud to welcome two exceptional young women scientists into the For Women in Science family. They will join 16 other national fellows and 3 international fellows from Singapore, a small but growing network of young talented and aspiring women, who like L'Oréal, believe that the world needs science, and science needs women.”
In 2016, 42 applications were received from institutions as diverse as Yale-NUS, Duke-NUS, National Eye Centre, National Dental Centre, NUS and NTU.
“More than a prize of $30,000, the fellowships are focus points for something much bigger. It is a platform to showcase the wonderful works, to help put spotlights on their work and in return, hopefully inspire other women who would later join in science and innovation. Together with future recipients of such work, I encourage you to continue shining in the scientific community, continue serving and inspiring all of us," said Mr. Henric Sark.