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Two Thais in top 100 Asian scientists

May 06. 2016
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By The Nation, Asia News Network

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TWO THAIS including a former deputy prime minister have made it to the Asian Scientist 100 (AS100) list, ranking alongside Nobel laureate Tu Youyou.

This list, the first ever, was compiled by the Asian Scientist magazine and includes Thai nationals Yongyuth Yuthavong and Agachai Sumalee.

Yongyuth, who completed his PhD in organic chemistry at Oxford University, is not only a familiar face in the field of science, but is also known for his role in politics. In 2006, he was appointed the science and technology minister, and between 2014 and 2015, he served as a deputy prime minister.

Outside politics, Yongyuth worked at Mahidol University for nearly three decades and played a big role in research. Moreover, he was instrumental in setting up key institutions such as the Science and Technology Ministry, the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnolog, and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).

In 2004, Yuthavong was awarded the 9th Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation for his outstanding role in the research of malaria and for developing science and technology research systems in the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Agachai – now a prominent member of the King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) – also boasts of an impressive profile.

After completing his Bachelors in Civil Engineering with honours at KMITL, Agachai went on to study at the University of Leeds, where he earned a Masters in Science (Engineering) with distinction in planning and engineering from the university’s Institute for Transport Studies in 2000 and a doctorate in philosophy in 2014.

Between 2004 and 2006, he worked as senior research fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies, before becoming assistant professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Civil and Structural Engineering from 2006 to 2012.

Currently, he holds the positions of vice president and director of the KMITL’s Smart City Research Centre.

Agachai was awarded the APEC Science Award for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE) Science Award in 2014 for combining traffic-flow algorithms with highway sensors to create an intelligent transportation system that reduces highway congestion.

The recognition associated with AS100 will only add to Yongyuth’s and Agachai’s accolades.

Included in the same list are some of the brightest minds from several countries, with Japan dominating the list with 29 names, followed by China with 20 and India with 15 honourees.

The list also includes nine South Koreans, five Filipinos, five Hong Kong residents, five Taiwanese nationals, two Vietnamese nationals, and one Malaysian.

Dr Juliana Chan, assistant professor at the Nanyang Technological University and founder and editor-in-chief of Asian Scientist Magazine, said, “With the AS100 list, we hope to give Asian scientists due recognition for quality research that seeks to further scientific knowledge, break technological boundaries and improve human lives”.

She also expects the list to open up possibilities for collaboration, saying, “We seek to heighten the interest of scientists from elsewhere who may want to work with the best scientists from the region.”


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