PENANG, February 2018 – A Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) scientist from the School of Chemical Engineering, Associate Professor Ir. Dr. Leo Choe Peng, has been honoured at the Ton Duc Thang University Scientific Prize 2017 award ceremony held at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last month.
Choe Peng was awarded the Women in Science Award for her research work on membrane technology and wastewater treatment that has contributed significantly to society. The award was presented by the Principal of Ton Duc Thang University, Professor Le Vinh Danh.
Three other scientists also received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rising Star Award at the ceremony.
Launched in May 2017, the organiser received 62 submissions of scientists from 20 countries throughout the world, including China, India, Canada, France, Italy, Russia, Belgium, Estonia, the U.S., Iran, Nigeria, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
The Ton Duc Thang University Scientific Prize is established with the purpose of honouring Vietnamese and international scientists who have produced excellent research results in their respective fields and contributed positively to society.
The USM Media and Public Relations Centre (MPRC) caught up with Choe Peng (CP) via e-mail recently:
MPRC: What was your feeling when you came to know that you have been selected as one of the award recipients?
CP: It is truly a humbling experience to be accepting this award and receiving this recognition from one of the top universities in Vietnam. Hopefully, more women pursuing careers in the sciences can be recognised in the near future.
MPRC: Who are those who have been instrumental in providing support and encouragement to you in your research work? Why do you say so?
CP: I would like to thank the university top management, my mentors, colleagues, students and collaborators who encouraged and helped me in the past, even though we might have different opinions, come from different backgrounds and/or genders. Without all these good people in my life, I don't think I can sustain my research career.
MPRC: What are some advices to your fellow colleagues especially the junior researchers/lecturers in excelling in research work?
CP: Many people ask me about my secret on working in science and technology, especially when they know that I am a woman with many roles such as researcher, educator, engineer and mother at the same time. I don’t have any secret formula. I just do what I love to do. I keep trying what I love to do, even though others think it is impossible. Every time I hear “impossible”, I think I am hearing “I am Possible”.
MPRC: Any particular research project you are currently working on that will produce outcomes that would impact the society at large?
CP: I have been working on functional thin films for about ten years. Our research team is currently working on superhydrophobic membranes and coatings which repel water like a lotus leaf. The superhydrophobic thin films can be used to capture CO2, reclaim water, purify food and protect concrete. Our research team aims to create meaningful impacts in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Text: Tan Ewe Hoe/Photo: Dr. Leo Choe Peng