Top Thai women chemists

Food packaging, nanotechnology, genetic diseases and shrimp medicine, the diverse research of L'Oreal fellowship winners.

top Thai women chemists

In the photo above from the left: Asst Prof Dr Hathaikarn Manuspiya, Dr Uracha Ruktanonchai, Dr Natini Jinawath and Dr Saengchan Senapin

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Women: Chemistry between-us by Napamon Roongwitoo


2011 celebrates women's successful contribution to science. Four winners of this year's 'For Women in Science' fellowships speak of their passion and achievements in this field.
 
When Polish-French scientist Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911, she may have triggered, without quite realising, a revolution that effectively has laid to rest the notion that women and science are not compatible. She was first to break into a league that had been exclusively men's until then, and though women still constitute only about 5% of Nobel winners going back a century, the percentage is steadily increasing.

To mark the 100th anniversary of that ground-breaking achievement, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and Unesco have designated 2011 the International Year of Chemistry. It is a worldwide celebration of chemistry's contribution to the well-being of humankind under the unifying theme "Chemistry - Our Life, Our Future" as well as women's contributions to the field and science in general...

...The presentation of science fellowships this year under the "L'Oreal Thailand For Women in Science" programme, now in its 9th year, was attended by Dr Ada E Yonath who won the 2009 Nobel in Chemistry for studying the structure and function of the ribosome, and a winner of L'Oreal-Unesco Award for Women in Science in 2008...

....The recipients of the fellowship this year were Asst Prof Dr Hathaikarn Manuspiya of the Petroleum and Petrochemical College, Chulalongkorn University; Dr Uracha Ruktanonchai of the National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC); Dr Natini Jinawath of the Faculty of Medicine , Mahidol University; and Dr Saengchan Senapin of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC)...

....Dr Hathaikarn was awarded for her studies on the development of mesoporous materials for entrapping heavy metals and gases in packaging for a better quality of food and water. Today, many Thai exporters are faced with problems related to product packaging, especially from leakage of oxygen and ethylene gases. Using natural resources such as clay will add value to the existing resources and extend its benefits to the plastic industry. Her dream is to go to the supermarket and see that the materials she has come up with are also of benefit to consumers in general.

Dr Uracha studied the development of encapsulation technology based on lipid nano carriers for bio applications to assist in controlling release characteristics, drug retention, withstanding heat, and moisture of drugs. This will improve the delivery system of drugs and release characteristics of bio-active chemicals. "Simply put, it is like a wonton, and I developed a better coating," Dr Uracha said with a smile. Dr Natini was recognised for her research on genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array as a clinical diagnostic tool for unexplained developmental disabilities and congenital anomalies. Her initial interest was sparked by her desire to see Thai people receive treatments of the same standard as developed countries when it comes to genetic diseases.

The secret to her success is her passion. "If you have passion for something, you thrive on finding out more and more about it. The more you know, the happier you are. I am energised by my work and I feel rewarded when I can solve a problem," Dr Natini said.

The fellowship for Dr Saengchan Senapin was awarded eight years to the day she began her research work. Her study of shrimp molecular biology using yeast two-hybrid technique is, in turn, a reward for Thai exporters in this field. Her research will help control shrimp diseases and prevent shrimp farm losses, making shrimp cultivation a sustainable enterprise

There seems to be a general feeling that women do not advance as much as men in the field of science, but these four women said the opposite is also true. For one, women are naturally better at multitasking and they have more tolerance. People also warm to women more than to men, so asking for help is not a problem. They all feel that gender is not a problem in today's professional world and women are welcome. In fact, Dr Uracha said that in her team half of the members were female, and they "work just as well as the guys."

Dr Saengchan said it is important to know science because it is part of our daily life from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. Dr Hathaikarn said being a scientist is a very progressive job and it is, in fact, far from boring.

"Science is full of charming mysteries, and I would love to see the new generation choose it as a profession. Who knows? One day it might be you who sits here, winning this fellowship," Dr Hathaikarn said.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Women, Chemistry between-us, 17/09/2011, Napamon Roongwitoo, link

Chemistry Vocabulary

food packaging - food packaging that proetects the food from air, dirt and chemicals before sale is important for food safety (See Wikipedia)

nanotechnology -
"the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres. Quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale" (See Wikipedia)

genetic diseases -
"an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes, especially a condition that is present from before birth. Most genetic disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions" (See Wikipedia)

shrimp medicine -
shrimp farming is economically important, veterinarians and medical researchers are important maintaining health of shrimp during cultivation (See Wikipedia)

chemistry between us - same as "the chemistry between two people"
there is chemistry between two people - it is obvious that two people like each other a lot (or are attracted to each other)

contribution
- something that you do that helps to achieve something or to make it successful ผลงาน,การช่วยเหลือ
contribution to science - when the research of a scientist adds to and extends knowledge in the science
scientific contributions - another way of saying "contribution to science" 

fellowship -
a research fellowship, a job at a university that involves research (not permanent)
recipients - people who receive something (for example, a reward, recipients of the award) ผู้ได้รับรางวัล
recipients of the fellowship - researchers who received the research fellowship

Marie Curie - awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemsitry in 1911 for "the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element" (See Wikipedia)

Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- the highest award for achievements in chemistry, "awarded annually to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895...The award in chemistry requires the significance of achievements being recognized is "tested by time." In practice it means that the lag between the discovery and the award is typically on the order of 20 years and can be much longer," Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize, was himself a chemist (See Wikipedia)

International Year of Chemistry - a special UN resolution in 2008 to commemorate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to humankind with many events during the year (See Wikipedia)
designated
- choose for a special purpose แต่งตั้ง ที่ได้รับการแต่งตั้ง
designated 2011 the International Year of Chemistry

L'Oreal-Unesco Award for Women in Science in 2008 - a prize that is awarded each year that "aims to improve the position of women in science by recognizing outstanding women researchers who have contributed to scientific progress. The awards are a result of a partnership between the French cosmetics company L'Oréal and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and carry a grant of $100,000 USD for each laureate. Each year an international jury alternates between life and material sciences and selects a winner from each of the following regions: Africa and the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean North America (since 2000)" (See Wikipedia)

NESCO-L'Oréal International Fellowships - a prize "providing up to $40,000 USD in funding over two years to fifteen young women scientists engaged in exemplary and promising research projects" (See Wikipedia)

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) - (pronounced eye-you-pack) the international organization that unites chemists around the world, also the standard system of naming chemical compounds (See Wikipedia)

Dr Ada E Yonath - the woman who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry, "an Israeli crystallographer best known for her pioneering work on the structure of the ribosome...she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry ...for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome, becoming the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize."

She was awarded the L'Oreal Prize "for her structural studies of the protein biosynthesis system and its disruption by antibiotics."

She "focuses on the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis, by ribosomal crystallography, a research line she pioneered over twenty years ago despite considerable skepticism of the international scientific community. Ribosomes translate RNA into protein and because they have slightly different structures in microbes, when compared to eukaryotes, such as human cells, they are often a target for antibiotics. She determined the complete high-resolution structures of both ribosomal subunits and discovered within the otherwise asymmetric ribosome, the universal symmetrical region that provides the framework and navigates the process of polypeptide polymerization. Consequently she showed that the ribosome is a ribozyme that places its substrates in stereochemistry suitable for peptide bond formation and for substrate-mediated catalysis. Two decades ago she visualized the path taken by the nascent proteins, namely the ribosomal tunnel, and recently revealed the dynamics elements enabling its involvement in elongation arrest, gating, intra-cellular regulation and nascent chain trafficking into their folding space."

"Additionally, Yonath elucidated the modes of action of over twenty different antibiotics targeting the ribosome, illuminated mechanisms of drug resistance and synergism, deciphered the structural basis for antibiotic selectivity and showed how it plays a key role in clinical usefulness and therapeutic effectiveness, thus paving the way for structure-based drug design."

"For enabling ribosomal crystallography Yonath introduced a novel technique, cryo bio-crystallography, which became routine in structural biology and allowed intricate projects otherwise considered formidable." (See Wikipedia)

delivery system of drugs - (See Wikipedia)

entrapping - catching
packaging - the container or covering for something (such as food in the store, to protect the food before it is eaten) 
heavy metals - (See Wikipedia)
entrap
- catch
entrapping heavy metals and gases in packaging 

leak -
when a liquid or gas passes through a small hole or crack in a container รั่ว
leakage
(noun) - the amount of liquid or gas passing through a small hole in a container การรั่ว

ethylene
- "teh most produced organic chemical compound in the world; "a gaseous organic compound with the formula C2H4. It is the simplest alkene (older name: olefin from its oil-forming property). Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone. Ethylene is the most produced organic compound in the world; global production of ethylene exceeded 107 million tonnes in 2005. To meet the ever increasing demand for ethylene, sharp increases in production facilities are added globally, particularly in the Persian Gulf countries and in China" (See Wikipedia)

clay - a kind of earth that is soft when wet, hard when dry; shaped and baked to make pots and bricks (See Wikipedia) ดิน

genetic - dealing with the genes and common characteristics that are passed from parent to child ทางพันธุกรรม

yeast - a type of fungus which is used in making alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine, and for making bread swell and become light ยีสต์, ส่าเหล้า, เชื้อเหล้า, เชื้อหมัก

hybrid - 1 an animal or plant that is bred from two different types (species) พันธุ์ผสม หรือลูกผสม 2. a mixture of two or or more different things การผสมผสาน

shrimp cultivation - raising shrimp for sale as food (See Wikipedia)
cultivation - growing things (usually plants)

General Vocabulary

passion
- a strong enthusiasm or interest ความชื่นชม หลงใหล
achievements - some great thing a person has succeeded in doing (after great effort)
field - a subject of study or work that requires specialized knowledge (example: the field of medicine)

triggered, without quite realising, a revolution

triggered - caused
revolution - 1. a complete change to a new kind of system or situation; 2. violent overthrow of the existing political and social order การปฏิรูป
scientific revolution - a big change in the way that science is done (See Wikipedia)

laid to rest the notion - stopped people from believing something that was wrong
laid to rest the notion that women and science are not compatible - ended the mistaken belief that women can't do science

break into a league -
become a member of a small special group of people 
exclusively men's
- only for men
constitute only about 5% - are only about 5% of the total
century - 100 years

effectively - working well and producing the results that they wanted
notion - belief or idea ความคิด, ความเชื่อ, แนวคิด
century - a period of one hundred years ศตวรรษ

mark - to celebrate something ฉลอง record สถิติ to show that something is happening เป็นเครืองแสดง
anniversary - a date when you celebrate something that happened in a previous year that is important to you วันครบรอบ
mark the 100th anniversary - to celebrate the 100th year since something began

achievement
- something very good and difficult that you have succeeded in doing การบรรลุผลสำเร็จ
ground-breaking achievement - to do something important and new (the first to do something that will change the way people do things in the future)

theme - the main subject of something, or idea behind something ใจความสำคัญ, ประเด็นหลัก
unifying theme - some idea that ties a lot of different unrelated things together (so that they have unity and have something in common)

contributions - something that you do or give to help make something successful การช่วยเหลือ
women's contributions to the field and science in general - research that women have done that has added to knowledge in the science of chemistry

natural
- found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
natural resources - things such as coal, trees and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากร

extend
- to include something more ยืดออกไป ขยายออกไป
extend benefits - when people get more benefits from something (such as common "clay") 

consumers
- people who buy things (individuals and families)

the materials she has come up with -
the useful materials she has created as a chemist

release - to allow to go free ปล่อย
active - working, operating, doing its job
initial - early; first ในเบื้องต้น

thrive - do well and be successful and strong

reward
- something given in exchange for good behaviour or good work, etc รางวัล

enterprise - an organization, especially a business กิจการ, บริษัท,อุตสาหกิจ,วิสาหกิจ
sustainable enterprise - a business that can be continued indefinitely into the future (example: logging is not a sustainable enterprise, if you cut down all the trees and fail to replant them.)

multitasking - being able to successfully do many tasks at the same time (See Wikipedia)
tolerance
- 1. ability to bear and put up with something unpleasant and painful; 2. allowing other people to say and do as they please even if you do not agree or approve

People warm to women more than to men - People more easily become friends with women than with men.

gender - the fact of being either male or female เพศ the differences between men and women (including biological and social) (See Wikipedia)

today's professional world -
the world of work that requires high level of training and experience (examples: doctor, researcher, lawyer, accountant, architect, journalist, etc)

moment
- a very short period of time; a particular time or occasion ชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ

charming mysteries -
unknown things that are fun to discover
generation - a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
the new generation - young people

profession
- a type of job requiring advanced training and education

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer