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IMU Medical Biotechnology Polar Scientists Win Awards in Antarctic Research Seminar

05 Jun 2024

The 10th Malaysian International Seminar on Antarctica (MISA10) convened researchers and postgraduate students from around the world on 14 and 15 May 2024 at the Bangi Resort Hotel, Selangor. This biennial event, themed “Polar Research for Sustainability and Planetary Health,” highlighted the importance of polar research for maintaining natural resources sustainability and planetary health. MISA10 was jointly organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), the Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation (YPASM), the National Antarctic Research Centre (NARC), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES).


A group of IMU University polar research scientists and postgraduate students comprising of A/Prof Ts Dr Wong Chiew Yen, A/Prof Ts Dr Kok Yih Yih, Dr Nor Alia Johari, Lim Zheng Syuen, Aw Yong Poi Yi, and Chia Kiat Fatt actively participated in discussions and presentations, contributing to the seminar’s collaborative atmosphere.

Best Poster Presentation - A/Prof Ts Dr Wong Chiew Yen

A/Prof Ts Dr Wong, a faculty of the Division of Applied Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology won the Best Poster Presentation Award in the event. Her research, titled “Oxidative Stress Response of Tritostichococcus sp. Under Mixotrophic Growth for Phytoremediation of Diesel,” explored the use of mixotrophic cultivation to enhance microalgal productivity and its potential in phytoremediation.

Dr Wong’s findings demonstrated that the Antarctic microalga Tritostichococcus sp. could effectively mineralise low concentrations of diesel, achieving higher biomass and photosynthetic pigment content compared to phototrophic growth.


“Supplementation with organic carbon sources is a common practice in microalgal cultivation to enhance productivity,” Dr. Wong explained, highlighting the significance of her research in pollution mitigation efforts.

Best Oral Presentation - Aw Yong Poi Yi

Aw Yong Poi Yi, an alumna of IMU Medical Biotechnology and current PhD candidate under the supervision of A/Prof Ts Dr Kok and A/Prof Ts Dr Wong, was awarded the Best Oral Presentation. Her study, “Combined Toxicity Effects of Polyethylene Microplastics (MPs), Copper, and Lead in Antarctic Chlorella vulgaris,” addressed the impact of microplastics and heavy metals on Antarctic microalgae.

“Despite its remote location, Antarctica is not exempt from plastic pollution,” Ms. Poi Yi noted. Her research aimed to assess the combined effects of polyethylene microplastics and heavy metals like copper and lead on the growth of Antarctic Chlorella vulgaris, a critical component of the fragile Antarctic ecosystem.


She expressed her gratitude for the award, stating, “I am truly honoured to be recognised for my work. It is unexpected and surprising. I’m grateful for the support and guidance from my supervisors, A/Prof Ts Dr Kok and A/Prof Ts Dr Wong, that made this achievement possible.”


MISA10 provided an invaluable platform for researchers to share their findings, foster new collaborations, and inspire the next generation of scientists in the field of polar research. The event emphasised the global importance of maintaining the health of polar regions for the sustainability of our planet.

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