Two women can now count themselves among a league of elite scientists in Singapore after they were awarded a prestigious national science fellowship.
National University of Singapore (NUS) biological sciences professor Ding Jeak Ling and A*Star's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology executive director Jackie Ying were yesterday conferred the Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS) fellowships.
This is the first time that women have been conferred the fellowships, which recognise outstanding individuals in the field of science in Singapore. The fellows of the SNAS, established in 1977 to promote science and technology here, were all men previously.
Prof Ding and Prof Ying were among seven scientists elected fellows of the academy this year.
Prof Ding, whose research interests are in innate immunity and pathogen surveillance strategies, has published many research papers in international journals and won several awards for her work.
Prof Ying, a chemical engineer by training, has won a string of accolades, including being named among the "100 Engineers of the Modern Era" by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2008.
SNAS president Andrew Wee told The Straits Times that both women are known globally in their respective fields.
"Both women have contributed significantly to the advancement of science in Singapore through their research, as science leaders and as role models for generations of young men and women keen on careers in science," he added. "We hope that young women curious about science... will be inspired by them."
The new SNAS fellows, who received the fellowships from Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner at the Kent Ridge Guild House at NUS, also included prominent names such as Nanyang Technological University president Bertil Andersson, a renowned plant biochemist, and NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan, a renal physician by training.
They join 20 other noted scientists, who were conferred the fellowships in 2011 and 2014.
Prof Ying, 50, who could not be at the ceremony as she is in Arizona in the United States for a conference, told The Straits Times the recognition is a step in the right direction.
"Increasingly, more women are pursuing careers in science," she said. "I hope this achievement will encourage more to join this field."
Prof Ding, who declined to give her age, said: "I am honoured to be conferred this fellowship. It is also a recognition of the work that my team and I have done over the years."
At the ceremony, Dr Brenner, 89, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2002, was also conferred the academy's honorary fellowship for his contributions to the development of life sciences here.
The South African scientist helped set up Singapore's first research institute in biomedical sciences, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, and helped shape the research scene here.
Prof Wee said: "The science and technology scene here has matured tremendously in recent times. We now have many scientists who have not only distinguished themselves in their fields, but have also achieved international recognition."