L’Oréal Thailand announces 3 researchers awarded ‘For Women in Science 2022’

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L’Oréal (Thailand) Ltd., continuing to support women in science, has announced a list of three Thai women researchers who have received a medal along with fellowships valued at 250,000 baht granted by L’Oréal Thailand’s ‘For Women in Science 2022’, for their outstanding contributions to society, both in terms of the environment and sustainability, which are recognized as globally important issues. L’Oréal continues to emphasize its commitment to honoring women in science and supporting research work for the 20th consecutive year as part of the sustainable development of the country’s scientific field, while also driving the success of research by Thai women into practical use and further development both nationally and globally.

Mr. Patrick Girod, CEO of L’Oréal (Thailand) Ltd., said: “L’Oréal, as a beauty company, focuses on science and working to support and empower women; we have always recognized the importance of supporting women’s role in science. We believe that the world needs science, and science needs women, especially in the social and cultural context of Asia, where women are still experiencing difficulties in education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as shown in findings from Catalyst[1].

However, Thailand is considered an outstanding country, marked by a 53% share of female researchers. This data highlights the success of pushing for gender equality in the scientific sphere and is empirical evidence of the ability of Thai women researchers to be second to none. It’s been more than 20 years since L’Oréal Thailand began continuously granting fellowships to Thai women researchers, and we are committed to continuing the support to Thai women researchers, to empower the Thai science industry and allowing Thai women researchers to shine on the global stage.”

This year, fellowships in two fields were granted to three female researchers from three institutions.

One fellowship in Life Science was presented to the following recipient:

  1. Assoc. Prof. Pimchanok Buapet from the Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, with her fruitful work: ‘Integrating seagrass eco-physiological features to promote ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration capacity’.

Two fellowships in Physical Science were presented to the following recipients:

  1. Asst. Prof. Kanokwan Kongpatpanich from the School of Molecular Science and Engineering, Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), with her outstanding research: ‘Developing the metal-organic framework (MOF) for energy and environmental applications’.
  2. Dr. Anchalee Junkaew from the National Nanotechnology Center, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), with her distinctive study entitled: ‘Integrating theoretical methods to develop heterogeneous catalysts and advanced materials for biorefinery and environment’.

Fellowships: L’Oréal Thailand ‘For Women in Science 2022’

Women

Assoc. Prof. Pimchanok Buapet, selected as a fellow in Life Science, from the Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University said: “The seagrass ecosystem is an efficient carbon reservoir. Classified as one of the blue carbon ecosystems, it plays a prominent role in mitigating the impact of climate change. Seagrass beds in Southeast Asia can store up to 6.8 teragrams of carbon per year (which is worth a maximum of 250 million US dollars), but the area is decreasing steadily. Even though Thailand has undertaken seagrass restoration projects for over 20 years, it still needs to study further and monitor systematically long-term.

This research is the first project in Thailand and Southeast Asia to integrate eco-physiological knowledge to enhance the success of seagrass ecosystem restoration. It compares the natural, pristine seagrass meadows to the restored seagrass meadows because both have great potential for carbon storage, and both are main areas for seagrass restoration projects in Thailand. This research will provide critical information for planning seagrass ecosystem restoration.

It can identify favorable environments and threats for seagrasses, increase chances of restoration success, mitigate undue economic losses, and be a guideline for seagrass conservation and management, which in turn may help to promote carbon sequestration. After all, the seagrass ecosystem restoration is a compelling strategy, with national and international ramifications, because it will not only enhance the carbon storage potential of coastal areas, but will also lead to an increase in marine habitats, maintaining nutrient levels and reducing coastal erosion as well. This research is therefore useful to international academic communities as other areas can build on the success of this ecological restoration as well.”

Women

Asst. Prof. Kanokwan Kongpatpanich, selected as a fellow in Physical Science, from the School of Molecular Science and Engineering, Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), commented: “Heavy metal contamination and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are major contributors to environmental problems and cause detrimental effects on human health. This research aims to develop technology to adsorb heavy metals in water sources, petroleum sources, and industrial wastewater, focusing on developing the metal-organic framework (MOF). Because the MOF is a class of porous materials composed of metal cluster and organic cluster, it is versatile in terms of compositional and structural modifications. Its chemical, physical, and electrical properties can be controlled or altered for the intended energy and environmental applications.

Adsorbents are widely used in households and industry, but high-quality adsorbents for heavy metals and air-polluting organics are often imported and costly. Although there have been extensive studies in the use of MOFs in other countries, such studies are scarce in Thailand. Therefore, this research represents great significance for better understanding of the correlation between the structure and its adsorption properties and extending the possibility to other practical applications to solve environmental problems on a personal, industrial, and national level.

In addition, taking environmental issues into account, the researcher developed the MOF from recyclable PET plastic, which is widespread in the country. The synthetic process is environmentally friendly. Most importantly, this research aims to generate new knowledge for the country in order to reduce reliance on foreign technology, to develop an MOF that can potentially adsorb other particular substances, or even to design other types of adsorbents, which will yield more knowledge to improve the country considerably and solve environmental problems sustainably.”

Women

Dr. Anchalee Junkaew, selected as a fellow in Physical Science, from the National Nanotechnology Center, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), said: “Thailand is an agricultural country with great biodiversity and resources so converting biomass and agricultural waste from biorefinery into value-added biochemicals is crucial in order to maximize the resources’ value. This research integrates theoretical methods with experiment to develop heterogeneous catalysts and advanced materials for using in two main focuses: firstly, synthesizing value-added chemicals from biomass in biorefinery, and secondly, mitigating gaseous pollutants such as CO2 and NOx and/or converting them into value added chemicals. This research will provide the key knowledge and in-depth understanding of materials’ properties and descriptors affecting the material performance in target applications. It also reduces the time and cost of testing new materials in the laboratory and lowers the risk of exposure to toxic substances in the laboratory.

It will benefit the biorefinery and relevant industries such as the packaging industry, biodegradable plastic production, renewable energy industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and others. In addition, this research is aligned with the national plans and policies to develop the biofuel and biochemical industry, which is one of the five new industries (new S-curve) driving the country under the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model 2021-2027. It is also under the Nanocatalysis platform, which is one of the core technologies that the National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) is focusing on and encouraging more concrete productivity. Eventually, the goal is to transfer laboratory-scale findings to the large-scale implementation in the pilot plant and industrial sector.”

The L’Oréal ‘For Women in Science’ fellowship program was established in 1997 as joint project between the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO. Each year, the program honors and supports female researchers – presenting the outstanding work of more than 250 researchers nationally and internationally. To date, more than 120 female researchers have been honored as Laureates. In Thailand, the L’Oréal ‘For Women in Science’ fellowship program offers a 250,000 baht grant to each of the selected Thai female researchers (aged under 40) across two categories: Life Science and Physical Science. Throughout its 20 years, the program has granted fellowships to 81 Thai female researchers from more than 20 institutions.

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