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Malaysia's Top Research Scientists 2021- Changing the STIE landscape in Malaysia

THE Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) honours 22 recipients for the 2021 Top Research Scientists Malaysia (TRSM) in recognition of their outstanding contributions and achievements in Science, Technology, Innovation and Economy (STIE). TRSM recipients work toward realising the STIE agenda, in line with the 10-10 Malaysian Science, Technology, Innovation and Economy (MySTIE) Framework.

Through their various fields, TRSM recipients have altered the landscape of research and will lend their expertise as advisors in the National STI policy and decision-making process.

Let's meet some of Malaysia's brilliant minds!

1. Professor Ir Dr Abu Bakar Sulong

As the Deputy Dean at the Center of Research and Instrumentation Management Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Dr Abu Bakar is known for his splendid work in the field of composite materials, powder metallurgy, and interaction between different materials. Trained in mechanical engineering, he also serves as a professor, researcher, assessor, and evaluator in various departments and institutes, including UKM. On top of that, he also serves on panels for grant evaluations and committees of professional organisations.

2. Associate Professor Dr Ammar Zakaria

Working on a mission of building innovative, resilient infrastructure to promote sustainable industrialisation and enhance wealth creation in modern society, Dr Ammar Zakaria focuses on the application of data analytics and smart sensors in Industry 4.0. He helped Malaysia to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic by developing COVID-19 screening booths. The deployment of these booths in at least 10 Malaysian hospitals provided protection and comfort to the frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.

3. Professor Dr Azlan Abdul Aziz

Dr Azlan is an experienced and knowledgeable researcher in the field of nanomaterials and nano-device. His research focuses on the formation, synthesis, and properties of nanomaterials for medical and health purposes. With extraordinary presence in high-class journals in fundamental physics, he has published 59 studies so far in related fields and received numerous grants to support the research. He is also known for his contribution to the development and management of research labs associated with nanotechnology at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). He is committed to carrying on his "low-resource-setting" research work and making impactful contributions to strengthen research activities in USM and Malaysia.

4. Associate Professor Ts Ir Dr Chan Yee Kit

Dr Chan Yee Kit is Deputy Dean and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Multimedia University (MMU). His research contributions include the development of remote sensing instruments. Ground Based Synthetic Aperture Radar can be used to monitor high-risk landslide areas and provide early warnings, potentially saving lives and money.

5. Professor Dr Che Hassan Che Haron

Dr Che Hassan is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). With sustainability manufacturing in mind, his work focuses on optimising processes that enable efficiency while also considering the environmental impact, as well as the health and safety of operators. His most significant contributions are in the field of machining, which is one of the manufacturing processes that necessitates the use of coolant to reduce the temperature generated. He has successfully developed new, sustainable, and economical techniques such as minimum quality lubrication (MQL) and cryogenic cooling to enhance productivity and create a friendly environment.

6. Associate Professor Dr Chong Meng Nan

Dr Chong Meng Nan has made a significant contribution to the development and implementation of sustainable water systems and environmental nanotechnology for resolving energy and environmental issues. His research findings have helped the policymaker to plan and implement alternative water systems effectively. Apart from his research work, he is also taking the role of senior editorship for various international reputable journals.

7. Professor Ir Dr Hazlie Mokhlis

Focusing on the performance of electrical power systems, Dr Hazlie Mokhlis looks at cost-effective measures and their adaptability for future needs. He works toward the generation of clean, sustainable, and high-quality electrical power. Through his role as Chair of IEEE Power Energy Society Malaysia Chapter (2020-2021), he is able to share new technology/knowledge. He was also recognised as one of the World's Top 2% Scientist 2020 by Stanford University.

8. Professor Dr Ooi Boon Seng

As Earth's resources are finite, sustainable reclamation is therefore crucial. Dr Ooi Boon Seng found such potential in wastewater that is rich with precious resources such as water, metal ions and nutrients that can be recovered using hybrid membrane technology. This would bring substantial environmental benefits and positive socio-economic impacts.

9. Professor Dr Lim Phaik Eem

Dr Lim Phaik Eem has a special passion for algae. Serving as Deputy Director at University of Malaya's Institute of Ocean & Earth Science, her research focuses on the science of seaweed. There is huge market demand for seaweed due to its wide application as the source for food, pharmaceutical products, and biotechnology applications. Malaysia is the world's 3rd largest carrageenophytes producer with an estimated value of RM60 million annually, but due to various challenging factors, there is a trend of decline in production. With her involvement in GlobalSeaweedSTAR, she hopes to find strategies and solutions to sustain and safeguard the industry through the research findings.

10. Associate Professor Dr Lim Po Teen

Dr Lim Po Teen is the leading expert on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Malaysia from the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya. HABs occur when colonies of algae grow out of control and release toxins that are dangerous to aquatic ecosystems, consequently affecting human health and the economy. As the vice-chair of HAB-related international society (ISSHA) and UNESCO IOC programmes, he is responsible for addressing the challenges posed by HABs, developing mitigation strategies, as well as to serve as a liaison between stakeholders.

11. Professor Dr Mohammad Hamiruce Marhaban

Dr Mohammad Hamiruce Marhaban specialises in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. His pioneering contribution to mineral processing has transformed the industry, aligning it with the 4th Industrial Revolution. Through his involvement in student development programmes, he seeks to cultivate the passion for AI and robotics in the younger generation. He currently works on a research alliance through the Research Excellence Consortium on new robotic technology for search and rescue missions.

12. Professor Dr Mohd Rafie Johan

Through his illustrious career, Dr Mohd Rafie Johan has become an internationally recognised figure in the field of nanotechnology. In 2017, he was appointed Director of Nanotechnology and Catalysis Research Centre (NANOCAT). He has also been appointed as part of the panel for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship and COMSTECS for Islamic Organization Country for evaluation of Best Scientific Paper for Muslim Scientist.

13. Professor Ir Dr Mohammad Syuhaimi Ab-Rahman

Dr Mohammad Syuhaimi specialises in electronic engineering, specifically optical communication systems. His illustrious career includes multiple awards, research patents and impact researches. In his spare time, he delivers talks on STEM to spark the next generation's interest. Through endeavours such as Profesor ke Desa, Kem Rahsia Alam and FKAB4Orphans, he inspires the younger generation to bring about positive change in the world.

14. Professor Dr Roslinda Mohd Nazar

Dr Roslinda currently serves as Professor and Chairman at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, FST, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). She proudly represents Malaysia in the international applied mathematics community. Her main research interests are the modelling of boundary layer flow and heat transfer problems in Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids. For her research work, she has earned various national and international awards.

15. Professor Ir Dr Sevia Mahdaliza Idrus

Dr Sevia Mahdaliza Idrus is Deputy Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Her main research interests are optical communication systems and networks as well as engineering management. Through her contributions to smart city solutions, she received the 51 Most Impactful Smart Cities Leaders 2019 Award. She led a four-year Japan-Malaysia project on Radar over Fiber Foreign Object Debris Detection System that has made KLIA and Malaysia a world focal point for the development of high precision millimetre wave radar at 90-100GHz range.

16. Professor Dr Tang Thean Hock

Dr Tang Thean Hock is a professor in molecular biology specialised in RNA biology. His research focuses on identifying pathogenic bacterial small RNAs, isolating nucleic acid aptamers, and their application in molecular diagnostics. His discovery of the short tandem repeats arrays of the Prokaryotes is one of his major contributions to the RNA field. He pioneered the aptamer and RNA research in Malaysia and held several patents in molecular biomarkers and nucleic acid aptamer.

17. Associate Professor Dr Tang Tong Boon

Dr Tang Tong Boon's research focuses on neurotechnology and its applications in mental healthcare. A recipient of the Institute of Engineering and Technology's Mountbatten Medal, he has been instrumental in the creation of a cognitive training system in the diagnosis and possible prevention of Alzheimer's disease. He has also established the Optical Topography Hub (OT-HUB) to strengthen the collaboration between academia and the clinical community.

18. Professor Ir Dr Wan Azlina

Dr Wan Azlina heads the Sustainable Process Engineering Research Centre (SPERC) at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Centred on sustainability, her work focuses on biomass as a renewable energy alternative. This alternative energy source can fuel economic growth without compromising on climate goals. Biomass has a lot of untapped potentials, but there is a need to manage the delicate balance between the environment-food-energy-water nexus.

19. Professor Dr Wong Tin Wui

Dr Wong Tin Wui is a lecturer and principal fellow at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Smart Manufacturing Research Institute, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). His work focuses on precision drug delivery specifically for cancer, diabetes and infection treatment. He innovates medicine using nanotechnology and particle science. Through pharmaceutical engineering, therapeutics can be delivered to specific targets enabling reduced adverse effects, with the personalised drug dose – resulting in more effective and precise treatment.

20. Professor Dr Zahriladha Zakaria

Driven by interest in microwave energy, Dr Zahriladha and his colleagues co-founded a research group at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) that focuses on radio-engineering and microwave technologies. He has initiated research collaborations with industry players and has received several international invention awards. With vast experience and knowledge, he continues to mentor young researchers in this field. Dr Zahriladha believes that scientific research in universities is instrumental for the future of all areas of knowledge, reflected in his actions as Director of Research Management Centre at UTeM.

21. Professor Dr Zainovia Lockman

Dr Zainovia is a Materials Scientist with a passion for nanomaterials and their endless possibilities. A firm believer in sharing knowledge, her discoveries have been translated into numerous publications for dissemination and through undergraduate teaching and training programs. As co-chair of an ASM Task Force, she participated in the development of the National Nanotechnology Policy and Strategy 2021-2030 that touches on safety and regulations surrounding nanotechnology.

22. Professor Ir Ts Dr Zuhailawati Hussain

Dr Zuhailawati currently serves as a professor in Metallurgy at Universiti Sains Malaysia's School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering. Her research work emphasises the development of novel and sustainable metal alloys and metal matrix composites, surface engineering, and welding by using environmentally friendly manufacturing methods. She has contributed to the advancement in orthopaedic implants based on new, safe, and biocompatible titanium and magnesium alloys that potentially can provide high-performance medical service to society. Her research is highly beneficial in terms of making the metal manufacturing industry more economical and sustainable.

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