• Press Release

May 10, 2021

ASEAN National Finalists Compete in Science Prize for Women Competition

ASEAN National Finalists Compete in Science Prize for Women Competition

Jakarta – May 10, 2021 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation (COSTI), the U.S. government—through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—and Underwriters Laboratories are pleased to announce the national finalists for the Underwriters Laboratories-ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women 2021. This year’s competition focuses on “Clean Water and Clean Air” and recognizes ASEAN women scientists for outstanding research that addresses issues related to air pollution and the lack of access to clean water, which affect 110 million people living in Southeast Asia.

Selected from 64 candidates, each representing their ASEAN member state, the following 14 national finalists are competing in two categories – Mid-Career Scientist and Senior Scientist – for the Underwriters Laboratories award of $15,000 to the Senior Scientist winner and $10,000 to the Mid-Career Scientist winner.

National Finalists in the Mid-Career Category (45 years old and younger):  

  • Dr. Wida Susanty Haji Suhaili of Brunei Darussalam
  • Dr. HEU Rina of Cambodia
  • Dr. Intan Suci Nurhati of Indonesia
  • Dr. Aduwati Sali of Malaysia
  • Dr. Chit Wityi Oo of Myanmar
  • Dr. Mylene Gonzaga Cayetano of the Philippines
  • Dr. Hongying Li of Singapore
  • Dr. Sumana Ratpukdi of Thailand
  • Dr. Thi Dong Quy Hoang of Vietnam

National Finalists in the Senior Scientists Category (46 years old and older):

  • Dr. Neni Sintawardani of Indonesia
  • Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim of Malaysia
  • Dr. Seinn Lei Aye of Myanmar
  • Dr. Benilda S. Ebarvia of Philippines
  • Dr. Uma Seeboonruang of Thailand.

Now in its seventh year, the Science Prize is an annual competition featuring a range of relevant themes that strengthen science and technology capacity in ASEAN while promoting gender equality and empowerment. One of the many U.S. initiatives in support of ASEAN and its 10 member states to bolster economic integration and cultivate emerging leaders, the Science Prize promotes opportunities for women and addresses transnational challenges. This competition showcases the partnership among ASEAN COSTI, USAID, and Underwriters Laboratories – a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous, independent research and safety science education through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge – that underscores the importance of women’s contributions to improving society in a sustainable way through scientific research.

Professor Sirirurg Songsivilai, M.D., Ph.D, chair of the ASEAN COSTI 2021 said. "They represent the importance of women’s efforts to address issues surrounding haze and air pollution, as well as the lack of access to safe and clean water for around 110 million people living in Southeast Asia. It is not only inspiring the future generation, but their participation in the Science Prize is also an opportunity for them to demonstrate how science, technology and innovation can bring about positive outcomes by improving water or air quality for ASEAN." 

“We are extremely proud to support the ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women. Access to clean water and clean air are among our most basic human needs and essential for healthy communities and thriving societies,” said Cara Gizzi, Vice President of Education and Outreach at Underwriters Laboratories. “We cannot underestimate the importance of this work, and we congratulate the national finalists, who come from all ages and backgrounds, for their significant contributions. Their work does more than contribute to the prosperity and safety of communities throughout the ASEAN region — it also has the potential to bring about lasting improvements in the environment and to advance the well-being of future generations.”  

“The United States, together with ASEAN COSTI and Underwriters Laboratories, congratulates all the national finalists for their research to address the access to clean air and water, challenges faced by over 100 million ASEAN citizens," said Melissa A. Brown, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN. "Innovation is a critical component to achieving a world that is resilient to climate impacts, and advancements in climate-related science and technology offer the greatest economic opportunity the world has known since the Industrial Revolution. Research catalyzed by these women scientists offer creative approaches that will help protect the health of ASEAN citizens and the earth while fostering a safer, more prosperous, and sustainable society.”

For the next phase in the competition, each national finalist will prepare a three-minute video to promote her research and applied technology as a solution that positively impacts the community and inspires the next generation of women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Representatives from USAID, Underwriters Laboratories, and the ASEAN Secretariat will judge the results and impact of the work submitted by each of the 14 national finalists to narrow the selection to two regional finalists in each category. The four regional finalists will present their research in October 2021 where a winner for each category will be selected.

For additional information, contact USAID/ASEAN Communications Specialist, Samara Sanders at: jakartausaidasean@usaid.gov

Detailed information on each national finalist can be found at https://scienceprize4women.asean.org.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) brings together Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in a community united by a common desire and collective will to live in a region of lasting peace, security, and stability, sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and social progress, and to promote ASEAN vital interests, ideals, and aspirations.


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works to promote and demonstrate democratic values and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world through international development programs and disaster assistance. USAID partners to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises, progress beyond assistance, and attain self-reliance.

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. Underwriters Laboratories conducts rigorous independent research and analyzes safety data, convenes experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide the safe, sustainable commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods, to summits of world leaders. The organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being. To learn more, visit UL.org.