Ladies in lab coats: Female scientists feted by L'Oreal

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha presided at the awards ceremony for the 10th 'For Women in Science 2012' fellowship programme

The research of outstanding female scientists was highlighted at the recent presentation ceremony for L'Oreal Thailand's "For Women in Science 2012" programme held at the Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Erawan.

The selection was conducted by L'Oreal Thailand, with the support of the Thai National commission for Unesco.

This year, the programme recognised three scientists, starting with the Life Science category, which was granted to Dr Sansanee Noisakran from the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, National Science and Technology Development Agency, for her contribution to "investigation on mechanisms of dengue virus infection and host cellular responses for better understanding of dengue pathogenesis".

In the Material Science category, Asst Prof Dr Punnama Siriphanon from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology, Lat Krabang, was recognised for her study, "Nanotechnology for eco-friendly development in textile finishing".

The grant for the chemistry category was awarded to Asst Prof Dr Atitaya Siripinyanond from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science at Mahidol University for her contribution to the "investigation of particle size distribution of engineered nanoparticles in food, consumer products and environmental samples".

The programme has been running for 10 consecutive years, funding 40 female researchers in total.

Upon her arrival, HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha was seated on the stage to preside over the awards ceremony. After a welcome speech by Umesh Phadke, managing director of L'Oreal Thailand, a video presentation introduced the three outstanding scientists prior to their appearance to accept their awards from the princess.

Princess Bajrakitiyabha was then escorted to the head table, and the award recipients gave their acceptance speeches.

A children’s choir serenades the guests on Christmas night.

Dr Sansanee said, "Dengue haemorrhagic fever, an acute infectious disease caused by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, is now one of the most important public health problems in Thailand for which neither an anti-viral drug nor a vaccine for treatment and protection of dengue is commercially available. Hence, this study mainly investigates mechanisms of dengue virus infection and the host's cellular response by using human cells as an experimental model of dengue virus infection together with biochemical and proteomic techniques to identify human proteins that interact with NS1 protein of dengue virus and to test potential roles of those proteins in replication and spread of infectious virus, avoidance of the immune system and the response of cells to infection."

Dr Punnama said, "Nowadays, the textile manufacturing industry consumes high quantities of water and chemicals, and consequently it is one of the largest sources of water pollution. The excessive chemicals may contaminate the public water system, in which some residual chemicals are toxic and harmful to living organisms and the environment. The objectives of this research are to create value-added products that enhance the efficiency of chemical usage in textile finishing and eliminating the effluent contaminants by using nanotechnology to develop the eco-friendly textile finishing processes."

Dr Atitaya said, "This study is categorised as chemical analysis research which looks into particle size distribution of engineered nanoparticles in food, consumer's products and the environment. This will be beneficial to the quality control and research development processes in the industry where the nanoparticles are exploited to enhance product quality.

"It will also generate useful information for water quality control monitoring and management as far as nanoparticles are concerned."

During dinner, guests were entertained by singers Nabhada Sukrit and Nuttawut "Max" Jenmana, the popular contestant from The Voice Thailand, who performed a musical on the theme of scientists conducting research in their laboratories away from the public eye, and suddenly being recognised for their work by L'Oreal.

A group of young singers then performed Christmas carols and distributed sweets to the guests.