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Close Up How The 3 Winners Of L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women In Science 2019 Award Strive To Make A Difference

How The 3 Winners Of L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women In Science 2019 Award Strive To Make A Difference

How The 3 Winners Of L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women In Science 2019 Award Strive To Make A Difference
Shivaani Mariapun, Dr Wan Iryani Wan Ismail, Tengku Zatashah and Dr Lim Way Foong at the awards ceremony
By Jolyn Kang
By Jolyn Kang
November 11, 2019
Working with UNESCO, the L'Oreal Foundation recognises the dedication and hard work of women around the world in improving our lives

This year's Malaysian recipients are cancer researcher Shivaani Mariapun, associate professor of University of Malaysia Terengganu Dr Wan Iryani Wan Ismail and senior lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia Dr Lim Way Foong. Each received a grant of RM30,000 that will go towards their respective research.

Shivaani Mariapun

Shivaani is looking for a better method for early detection of breast cancer
Shivaani is looking for a better method for early detection of breast cancer

Shivaani considers herself lucky that she grew up in an environment that encourages science education. Her parents were instrumental in influencing her to choose a career that contributes beyond self-interest in order to achieve real job satisfaction.

As such, she has chosen to study cancer, in particular breast cancer since the disease is the leading cause of deaths among women in Asia. The PhD student at University of Nottingham Malaysia going is on a mission to improve breast cancer detection via more effective screening methods.

"We now know that the risk of developing breast cancer is not equal in all women. Providing the same screening recommendation to all women is therefore inefficient," she notes. "By tailoring screening according to risk profiles, we may detect cancer earlier and avoid unnecessary anxiety and distress in women."

Stay curious, nurture your passion for science, and you can have a fulfilling career in knowing your work may result in important contributions to our society.

Shivaani Mariapun

Being recognised by L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science was timely as the grant money would help ease the cost of her research. "It will certainly help us cover part of the expenses needed for the dataset that requires a huge amount of computational storage and computationally intensive applications for data analyses."

To all aspiring women scientists, she has this word of encouragement: "Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, and we can now explore complex ideas and problems like never before. The possibilities are endless! Above all, stay curious, nurture your passion for science, and you can have a fulfilling career in knowing your work may result in important contributions to our society."

Dr Wan Iryani Wan Ismail

Dr Wan Iryani wants to shed light on how natural honey can prevent obesity
Dr Wan Iryani wants to shed light on how natural honey can prevent obesity

Can honey really treat obesity? This is the question that Dr Wan Iryani Wan Ismail hopes to answer. Natural honey has many medical benefits, but its reputation has taken a hit thanks to the saturation of fake honey in the market. Fake honey contains complex sugars with zero nutrients that can cause obesity.

"The sugar in natural honey is in simple form that is easily absorbed and digested, making honey a food with one of the lowest glycaemic index," she says. The lecturer at the Faculty of Science and Marine Environment in University of Malaysia Terengganu is on a mission to create better awareness about natural honey with her research.

I believe women in science can help contribute to more findings that will benefit all. We sometimes go beyond our needs, which is the nature of a woman —to put other people's priorities above her own.

Dr Wan Iryani Wan Ismail

The mother of two has spent almost 10 years on this research and intends to dive deeper into the subject with the grant money. "I hope to bring a fresh perspective to honey consumption."

However, her research stretches beyond combating obesity. She wants the results from her research to help grow the local honey industry, especially the local beekeepers.

"In the long run, it can elevate the beekeeping sector and contributes to food security and sustainability by pollination, an activity bees carry out that is very important to our ecosystem," says Dr Wan Iryani.

Dr Lim Way Foong

Dr Lim aims to replace harmful blue light emitted by our mobile devices with violet
Dr Lim aims to replace harmful blue light emitted by our mobile devices with violet

We are all guilty of spending too much time on our mobile devices. The blue light radiating from them, however, is harmful not just to our eyes but also influences our melatonin hormone secretion, which affects our sleep-wake cycle.

Further motivated by the loss of her father's vision on his right eye from a parasitic infection, Dr Lim aims to replace the blue emission with the less harmful. "The reason behind the selection of violet is due to its minimal impact on melatonin hormone production," she explains. 

I'm constantly on high alert, not to compete or prove that I'm better, but to show that women too can be powerful in science. It's not about what women cannot do, it's whether or not we want to do it.

Dr Lim Way Foong

Describing herself as a "newbie" when it comes to research about LEDs, Lim only started discovering about LEDs in her post-doctoral career. And this year marks her first year learning about the technique of growing LED structure. She adds: "Considering the limited knowledge that I have, earning this award is a huge motivation for me as a new researcher in this area."

Right now, she's focused on finding the violet wavelength most suitable for human eyes. "If this research is successful, its impact extends worldwide as it can be applied as an alternative light source to blue light. We can continue to enjoy our modern lifestyle without neglecting our health."

ICYMI: #GirlPower Strikes Again At The L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women In Science National Fellowship 2019

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Close Up L'Oreal Malaysia UNESCO L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women In Science

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