Associate Professor Lam Yeng Ming, 35, a lecturer with the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), has been awarded one of the three inaugural L'Oréal Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowships 2009.
Assoc Prof Lam and the two other women scientists have each won a S$20,000 fellowship. The Fellowships seek to recognise the contributions of women scientists to the advancement of science and research in Singapore.
Assoc Prof Lam will be undertaking research on the self-assembly of peptides for sensing applications.
"For my project, I want to learn from nature about the design of self-assembled biomolecules that have different functionalities," said Assoc Prof Lam. "I will make use of biomolecules such as peptides to generate conduction channels for electrons. Once this is achieved, I will construct sensors using these peptides."
Assoc Prof Lam received her Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours) in Materials Engineering from NTU in 1996. She worked as a development engineer at Texas Instruments before she went on to do her PhD in Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. After completing her PhD studies, she returned to her alma mater, NTU, as an Assistant Professor in 2001.
Her research interests are in the understanding and designing of materials to achieve well-defined morphologies. These nano-sized structures are obtained by controlling the interactions between molecules or peptides, which are also known as soft materials. Some applications for these soft, organised materials are in solar energy harvesting and sensing.
"My most significant research contribution is in the field of self-assembly," said Assoc Prof Lam. "I have demonstrated through experiments and calculations that it is possible to accurately parameterise molecular systems. The mesoscale morphology of the molecular system can then be predicted accurately through simulation, making use of the dynamic mean field density method."
"This allows for a simple approach in the design of molecules for self-assembly and to understand the conditions for self-assembly. This work resulted in the publication of numerous papers and two book chapters," added Assoc Prof Lam. "These self-assembled nanostructures can then be used for solar energy harvesting and sensing applications."
Describing her win as "a very pleasant surprise" and "fantastic recognition of the work that I love to do", Assoc Prof Lam said: "I am honoured to be a recipient of the inaugural L'Oréal Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowships."
"But I am also humbled as I have so much more to learn and contribute in my career as a researcher and educator."
A panel of distinguished scientists – chaired by Professor Leo Tan, who is a member of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO as well as Chairman of its Science Sub-Commission – reviewed the applications and selected the L'Oréal Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowships recipients.
Assoc Prof Lam and the other two winners received their awards from Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, at an awards ceremony on 28 August 2009.
Presented for the first time in Singapore, the L'Oréal Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowships have been established with the support of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO, and in partnership with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). The Fellowships aim to recognise the significant contribution of talented women researchers to scientific progress, encourage young women in Singapore to pursue research, and promote their effective participation in the scientific development of Singapore.
Three Fellowships worth S$20,000 each will be awarded annually to women scientists who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents, to support them in their doctorate or post-doctorate research in the fields of Life Sciences or Material Sciences.