Female scientists contribute to developing nanotechnology in Vietnam

Saturday, 2017-03-18 19:08:56
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Five female scientists of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) have been granted with the 2016 Kovalevskaia Award.
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NDO - Five female staff members of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) recently were presented with the 2016 Kovalevskaia Award for their project on nanotechnology applied in agricultural production and healthcare. The five award winners, all of whom are over 60 years of age, have worked together devotedly and contributed to the development of nanotechnology in Vietnam.

The five scientists include, Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Kim Anh; Associate Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Nga; Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Phuong Tung; Associate Prof. Dr. Vu Thi Bich; and Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Hong Nhung.

All of them started their careers at the Institute of Physics, but now the five female scientists all work at different institutes of the VAST. However, they still collaborate on basic research into science and nanotechnology applications, as Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Hong Nhung has said: “We are the five petals of a flower. We are inseparable.”

The five staff started their first basic researches on nanotechnology in the 1990s, with a focus on manufacturing nano-materials in agriculture, biomedical, and oil and gas exploration. They are pioneers in their field, conducting researches on using sol gel and wet chemical techniques to make nanometer-sized semiconductor materials. Applications of the nano-materials have been seen in security printing, energy efficient components, and solar cells.

The team has also studied light emitting materials containing rare earth ions for the production of high-efficiency fluorescent lamps, fluorescent lamps emitting ultraviolet radiation, which are used for insecticide lamps and in agricultural production.

As rare-earth based nanoparticles are used as a marker in vaccine testing, while gold and silver nanoparticles are used in anticancer therapy for several types of cancer, their research has significantly contributed to the early detection and diagnosis of diseases at the molecular level.

The pentad has also gained remarkable achievements in employing photonics methods and devices for nano-materials research and biomedical applications. They have worked out a laser scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy, the first of its kind in Vietnam, which can provide CT scanning and create 3D images of living cells applicable in biomedical research and medical diagnosis.

Among them, Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Phuong Tung has been active in her research and applications of compounds, including nanoparticle compounds, in the oil and gas industry for enhanced oil recovery and improved efficiency and safety of offshore oil platforms.

The five female scientists are the authors and co-authors of around 630 articles which have been published in Vietnamese and international prestigious magazines and reports, including 120 articles published in journals that are featured on the International Scientific Indexing (ISI) list.

Sharing difficulties facing female scientists, Associate Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Nga said that they have to exert more efforts than their male colleagues in order to gain success in research while fulfilling their role as a wife and mother to their families.

Nga recalled a time when she was in France, upon hearing that her children were sick she immediately burst into tears and was urged by her family to return to Vietnam. Her four team-mates have also experienced similar moments when receiving news from home and feeling regretful about not spending enough time to care for their relatives and immediate family.

They have also had to deal with sparse budgets for their researches. Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Phuong Tung has spent VND 5 billion of her own money to equip her laboratory for research and training.

According to Professor and Academician Nguyen Van Hieu, former Chairman of VAST, the prestigious Kovalevskaia award was a deserving reward for the five female scientists in recognition of their significant contributions to Vietnamese science. He praised the pentad as pioneers in nano-science and nanotechnology in Vietnam, contributing to helping Vietnam become one of the leading countries in the Southeast Asian region in this field.

Although all five scientists are now retired, they are still busy with working trips, meetings, and conferences, many of which were chaired by themselves. Associate Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Nga said that the biggest source of motivation to continue their work derives from providing opportunities for young scientists and handing down knowledge to them.