Malaysian researchers win prestigious German environmental prize for work on sustainability

Tan Mei Zi
Andrew Ng Kay Lup (left) and Lai Yee Qing were among 25 researchers who were honoured under the Green Talents Competition 2019 for their contributions to sustainable development. — Picture from Green Talents website

PETALING JAYA, Nov 8 — Two Malaysian scientists have made a name for themselves on the global stage thanks to their work in sustainable development.

Andrew Ng Kay Lup and Lai Yee Qing were among 25 awardees in the Green Talents Competition 2019, organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to promote the exchange of innovative green ideas.

The two travelled to Berlin in October, where they presented their projects to a group of international researchers united in their focus of improving sustainability in various industries.

They will also be invited back to Germany in 2020 for a fully-funded research stay at an institution of their choice.

Ng, a Universiti Malaya PhD holder in chemical engineering, won over the Green Talents jury with his work on organic-based perovskites, a sustainable battery alternative for automobiles which promises greater horsepower and reduced weight and charging times.

Similarly, Lai impressed the judges with her research on improving industrial thermal energy efficiency through the innovation of existing heat exchanger networks.

This, in turn helps manufacturers reduce the emission of greenhouse gases while saving costs.

Both scientists were acknowledged for their significant and practical contributions towards building greener industries that inflict less harm on the planet.

The 25 awardees of the Green Talents Competition 2019 pose for a group photo in Berlin. — Picture courtesy of German Aerospace Centre (DLR)

In an email interview with Malay Mail, Ng said he was “elated” to be among the winners and called upon Malaysians to harness sources of renewable energy for a sustainable future.

“Malaysia is a land that is constantly filled with sunlight, yet it is underutilised,” he said.

“I hope Malaysia will be a nation that has this awareness not just by talk and no walk, but to be committed to reaching out for new sustainable technologies and enforcing environmental policies.

“We should also be fully investing in the raising of more future experts in addressing these issues.”

Lai, who is currently pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, was grateful for the networking opportunity that she got as a result of coming out on top of the competition.

“Forums like this provide opportunities for researchers with the same goal from all over the world to meet, interact, and connect with each other,” she added.

“We can gain insight into the research landscape worldwide, see the research focus and direction in other countries, and even collaborate with each other to result in better findings.”

The young scientist also hoped to see more environmental awareness amongst Malaysians, particularly with regard to sustainable development.

“Nowadays, the Internet has made information easily accessible. We have lots of information about environmental risks and the importance of energy conservation.

“The challenge is how to put sustainability into practice.”

Ng and Lai were among 25 researchers selected for the Green Talents Competition this year, which saw over 800 applicants from 97 countries sending in their ideas for shaping a sustainable future.

The programme is held under the patronage of the German minister of education and research Anja Karliczek and has been providing a platform for young scientists to share their findings since 2009.

Related Articles Shell grants RM500,000 to six NGOs and CBOs Greater emphasis on sustainable development — Group of 16 NGOs Politics, zero-sum culture hampering good development, planners say