ASEAN and US Announce the Winner of the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2019

Press Release: ASEAN and US Announce the Winner of the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2019

SINGAPORE, 10 October 2019 – Today Dr. Zhou Yan of Singapore of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore won the 2019 ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women sponsored by UL for her extensive research and work on energy efficient water treatment and reclamation (or recycling) for industrial and daily use, which has benefited several communities around Asia. Additionally, Dr. Mary Donabelle Balela from the Philippines received an honorable mention for her research on homegrown technology that promotes the circular economy—utilizing locally available raw materials for electronics, environmental, and energy applications, and finding ways to use agricultural waste in developing water treatment absorbents. The Prize recipients were announced at a ceremony earlier today in conjunction with the 77th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI-77) and ASEAN 18th Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation (AMMSTI-18) in Singapore.

The ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women sponsored by UL is an annual contest organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), through the Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation (COSTI), the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UL, a global safety certification company with 46 world-wide offices and headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, USA.

“Congratulations to Dr. Zhou Yan and Dr. Mary Donabelle Balela for their well-deserved achievements,” said Dr. Raj. Thampuran, Singapore COSTI Chairman and Senior Advisor of A*STAR. “The ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women underscores the importance of talent in advancing science and technology, that will tackle global sustainability challenges, and contribute to the growth of the region. Dr. Zhou and Dr. Balela are role models for all, and will inspire next-generation female talent into careers in STEM.”

The two regional finalists were selected from a pool of national finalists from seven ASEAN member states, who represent the best and the brightest young women scientists focusing on the Circular Economy, this year’s theme of the Prize. COSTI chose the ‘Circular Economy’ as this year’s theme to highlight the need for innovative management of the ASEAN’s natural resources to meet the growing demands of the region’s rapid population growth. As the winner, Dr. Zhou Yan received an award of USD 20,000, whereas honorable mention, Dr. Mary Donabelle Balela, received a USD 5,000 award.

Catherine Sheehy, head of UL Advisory Solutions, Environment and Sustainability congratulated Dr. Zhou Yan “for winning this year’s Science Prize. It is our hope that these regional finalists’ will inspire the next generation of young women in ASEAN in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to find more opportunities to showcase their work and develop new innovations that will further benefit the region.”

The United States is proud to support efforts that help realize the potential of women scientists, and we offer our congratulations to Dr. Zhou Yan on winning this year’s prize,” said Melissa A. Brown, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN. “Empowering women scientists is necessary to find the most innovative, sustainable solutions to drive economic growth and protect the region’s natural resources.”

The ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women sponsored by UL awards promising, ASEAN-based, early- to mid-career female scientists with recognition from ASEAN and the US Government for their academic and professional achievements. The Prize competition will continue in 2020 with the theme preventive healthcare.  More detailed information on this year’s winner, honorable mention and other national finalists as well as information on the 2020 competition can be found at For additional information, contact USAID/ASEAN Communications Specialist, Samara Sanders at:


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) brings together Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam 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) is the lead U.S. Government agency that 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.

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