L’Oreal Singapore Awards 2017 National Fellowships to Two Standout Women Scientists Under 35

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From (L-R) Dr Sherry Aw, Independent Fellow at IMCB, A*STAR (Winner of the Life Science Fellowship); Asst Prof Dawn Tan from SUTD (Winner of the Physical and Engineering Science fellowship), after receiving the award from Mr Henric Sark, Managing Director of L’Oreal Singapore(extreme right).

Two female scientists, Dr Sherry Aw, Independent Fellow at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR and Assistant Professor Dawn Tan from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have been awarded the prestigious 2017 national fellowships for the L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowship (FWIS) programme.

Held annually and in its 9th year, Dr Sherry Aw and Assistant Professor Dawn Tan were awarded a research grant of SGD$30,000 from Mr Henric Sark, MD of L’Oreal Singapore, at an award ceremony held on November 27th as a part of FWIS 2017. They join the ranks of more than 275 talented young women scientists awarded globally each year.

Says Mr. Henric Sark, “Women account for 28% of the world’s researchers. At L’Oreal, where our work is deeply ingrained in science and research, we believe that there is still much we can do to accelerate the advancement of young women in science globally. By empowering these women scientists such as Sherry and Dawn this year, we hope it will encourage the younger generations to follow their example and come forth to pursue their passion to find new ways to make the world a better place.”

They were selected based on criteria that involves intellectual merit, research proposals, potential for scientific advancement and relevance to innovative scientific solutions to problems confronting current issues.

Both fellows were selected by a 7-member jury, which included jury president Professor Christina Chai, from the Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore (NUS); Dr Lisa Ng, Senior PI, SiGN, A*STAR; Dr Mark Phong, Asia Director Advanced Research Labs and Business Development, L’Oreal Research & Innovation; A/P Low Hong Yee, Engineering Product Development, SUTD; Prof Leo Tan, Chairman, Science Sub-Commission Singapore National Commission for UNESCO & Director (Special Projects), Faculty of Science, NUS and A/P Gan Chee Lip, Director, Renaissance Engineering Programme & Director, Temasek Laboratories, NTU.

Dr Sherry Aw:

Conducting Genetic Experiments to Develop New Treatments for Neurodegenerative Diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease

Dr Sherry Aw,  was awarded the 2017 Life Science Fellowship for her research on the genes and cell mechanisms behind the pathological tremor that comes with neurodegenerative diseases, by using the fruitfly Drosophila. With rising concerns amongst the aging society about these diseases, Dr Aw uses genetics, molecular and imaging techniques to find the causes and potential treatment with Drosophila, which shares 60% of human genes.

In the aging society of today, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease are of increasing importance. The fruitfly Drosophila can also exhibit neurodegeneration. Although Drosophila have almost a million-fold fewer brain cells than humans, it shares 60% of our genes, thus making it a simple and useful model to understand genes, proteins and cell mechanisms that underlie brain functions and diseases.

In 2017, Drosophila research has won six Nobel prizes, including the Medicine prize. In her research, she uses genetics and other molecular and imaging techniques to manipulate and look into these tiny fly brains, to find the causes of and potential treatments for neurodegeneration.

“Find people who support and cheer your successes, and remember to also be that person for someone else” – Dr Sherry Aw.

Asst Professor Dr. Dawn Tan

Harnessing Nonlinear Photonics for a faster, cost-effective and power-efficient internet network

Working towards improving our internet network, SUTD’s Assistant Professor Dawn Tan, 35 years old, was awarded the 2017 Physical and Engineering Science fellowship.

Dr Tan’s research studies provides better convenience as she works towards changing the fiber channel to carry and restore data requested by multiple people. She converts electrical data into optical form, simplifying its complex value chain to create an internet network which saves time and energy.

Internet data goes through a complex value chain of electronics and photonics before it is received by its intended recipient. Electrical data needs to be converted into optical form, propagated long haul through optical fiber before it is restored and detected at the receiver. Her research studies new types of lasers, light emitters and amplifiers, that allow more than one stream of data to be driven and carried on that same fiber. Instead of the fiber channel carrying data requested by one person, it could be engineered to carry and restore data requested by multiple people. This allows the internet network to be cost and power efficient, and to be much faster.

“Harnessing Science and Engineering to solve problems and create new knowledge is my passion, and hopefully highlights the fulfillment young women can have in a Science and Engineering career ” – Dr Dawn Tan