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The APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research, and Education (“ASPIRE”) is an annual award sponsored by Wiley and Elsevier that recognizes young scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and collaboration with scientists in the region. This year, ASPIRE received 13 nominees contributing to the ASPIRE theme of smart technology for healthy societies.


Nominee: Dr Madhu Bhaskaran
Affiliation and title: Associate Professor, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Field of Research: Electronic materials engineering

Dr Bhaskaran’s work transforms the way we imagine, use, and interact with electronic devices and sensors. Published in over 130 peer reviewed publications, she has developed ways to combine functional oxide materials processed at high temperatures with elastic and plastic materials. Her work has led to the development of wearable elastic electronics and sensors including gas and UV sensors and flat optical devices—all of which are stretchable, optically transparent and as thin as a nicotine patch. An example of an application includes the development of devices to detect dangerous gases in mines that contribute to skin cancer.


Nominee:  Dr Daniel Fuller
Affiliation and title: Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Population Physical Activity, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Field of Research: Human kinetics and public health  

Dr Fuller’s research involves designing healthier cities by using mobile health technologies such as wearable devices, mobile phones, machine learning, and geographic information science to increase physical activity. He works closely with cities and local community organizations to evaluate the impact of existing interventions such as bicycle share programs, bridge construction, and snow clearing on physical activity. Dr Fuller has published over 40 peer reviewed articles.


Nominee: Dr Pablo González Muñoz
Affiliation and title: Assistant Professor, Pontificia Universidad Catolica De Chile
Field of Research: Host-pathogen interactions, human viruses, immunology,  microbiology, immune evasion

Dr  González studies the virus herpes simplex-2 (HSV-2), a virus that currently affects about 500 million people for which a vaccine is not available. Dr González has worked with at least five human pathogens and published more than 50 articles. Through his research, he has developed a fast, affordable, and easy-to-use diagnostic kit to detect viral infections for different tissues that can be used in rural areas.


Nominee: Dr Liu Guanghui
Affiliation and title: Professor, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese  Academy of Sciences
Field of Research: Stem cells and healthy aging

Dr Liu researches aging, organ and tissue homeostasis, and aging-associated diseases.  Through his work, he has discovered therapeutic interventions to allow for   the “healthy aging” of human stem cells. Published in over 80 publications and prestigious journals, Dr Liu’s work continues to enhance the study and treatment of disorders related to aging.


Nominee: Dr Chairul Hudaya
Affiliation and title: Assistant Professor, University of Indonesia
Field of Research: Electrical power and energy materials

Dr Hudaya researches affordable smart energy storage technology for healthy societies, especially those living in remote and isolated areas. His two main projects include 1) a portable energy storage device used with an infant incubator, serving premature infants; and 2) a smart monitoring system installed in a laptop enabling nurses to communicate in remote, off-grid areas. Dr Hundaya has published over 15 articles in peer reviewed journals.


Nominee: Dr Choongik Kim
Affiliation and title Associate Professor, Sogang University
Field of Research: Wearable/flexible electronics; organic/polymeric materials; semiconductors

Dr Kim researches and develops novel electric materials for use in wearable devices, including activity monitor bracelets, smart watches, and GPS enabled shoes. In 2007, as published in Science, he was the first to expand upon the relationship between electric materials and electronic device performance. He has published 75 articles in peer reviewed scholarly publications and his research is used to develop the core technology for new wearable technologies, leading to more real-time applications that can support meaningful improvements to health outcomes.


Nominee: Dr Siti Hamidah Mohd Setapar
Affiliation and title: Associate Professor, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Field of Research: Micellar nanotechnology, extraction of national products, product development from natural ingredients, cosmetic formulation, separation processes

Dr Mohd Setapar focuses her research on micellar nanotechnology, a cutting-edge technology used in skincare and cosmetics to improve the effectiveness of the skin cleansing process and enhance the absorption capacity of cosmetic ingredients into the skin. She has commercialized a range of cosmetic and skincare products through her university spin-off company and published over 50 peer reviewed articles. Dr Mohd Setapar’s mission is to empower Malaysian women with safer, high-quality cosmetic products and to make available high-value cosmetics combining micellar nanotechnology with local natural extracts at lower prices.


Nominee: Dr Mario Antonio Jiz II
Affiliation and title: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
Field of Research: Immunology

Dr Jiz researches schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease. Published in more than 15 articles, Dr Jiz develops vaccines for schistosomiasis and has patented a large scale production of a solution for the body to induce immunity against the disease.


Nominee: Dr Vladislav Voitenkov
Affiliation and title: Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
Field of Research: Clinical neurophysiology, infections of the nervous system, encephalitis, meningitis, myelitis, inflammatory polyneuropathy (Guillain-Barré syndrome)

Dr Voitenkov focuses his work on understanding neurology and functional diagnostics, especially in the aging process. He has published in over 20 journals and studies the rare disease, inflammatory polyneuropathy (Guillain-Barré syndrome), where the body’s immune system attacks your nerves, paralyzing a person’s entire body.


Nominee: Dr Daniel Shu Wei Ting
Affiliation and title: Assistant Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School, NUS
Field of Research: Artificial intelligence using deep learning in screening for diabetes eye screening

Dr Daniel Shu Wei Ting focuses his work on screening techniques for diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease for people with diabetes, which can lead to loss of vision. He has led a large research team in building the world’s first artificial intelligence system using deep learning to detect three potentially blinding conditions and has published in over 40 peer reviewed publications.


Nominee: Dr Ming-Kai Pan
Affiliation and title: Physician Principle Investigator, NTUH
Field of Research: Neurology: movement disorders

Dr Pan specializes in human physiology and mouse models of neurological disorders. His work is focused on discovering novel ways to measure brain physiology for movements which have implications for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and cerebellar ataxic disorders. Dr Pan also has invented smart technology to identify the most common movement disorders affecting 20% of the elderly population and has published in 14 peer reviewed publications.


Nominee: Dr Wanpracha Art Chaovalitwongse
Affiliation and title: Professor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Field of Research: Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Health Informatics, Medical Imaging Analysis, Medical Decision Making

Dr Chaovalitwongse focuses his research on data analytics in medical and healthcare applications, especially in analyzing brain activity to predict and monitor epilepsy. Through his work, he has developed solutions for problems caused by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, non-small cell lung cancer, sarcoma, and esophageal cancer and has published in over 185 scholarly publications.


Nominee: Dr Kara Spiller
Affiliation and title: Assistant Professor, Drexel University
Field of Research: Biomedical Engineering

Dr Spiller focuses her research on the design of “smart” biomaterials that can control the behavior of immune cells to promote tissue repair and wound healing. She has developed a point-of-care diagnostic to tailor optimal treatment for patients based on the state of their immune system according to factors such as age, genetics, and nutrition and has published in over 40 peer reviewed publications.