Asian Scientist: 21 Female Scientists Who Slay

Having trouble naming an outstanding female scientist? Well, here are 21 to get you started.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we turn the spotlight on 21 female scientists who have gone against the odds and forged paths for themselves in the male-dominated world of science and technology.

The fact remains that only a third of the enrollees in STEM courses globally are female, while women make up only 19-23 percent of the researchers in Asia

The figures also widely differ across countries within these regions. In Southeast Asia, for example, the Philippines and Thailand appear to be a better place for female scientists as women make up 52 percent of the scientific workforce. In contrast, only one in every three scientists in Indonesia and Singapore are women.

Interestingly, in countries considered the leaders of scientific research in Asia like Japan and South Korea, as few as 15 percent and 18 percent are female.

Though they may still be in the minority, women scientists nonetheless excel in their respective fields. From research that paved the way for the discovery of a genetic marker for breast cancer to groundbreaking research in microbial hazards that led to policy reforms, these 21 women who have made it to this year’s Asian Scientist 100 list are contributing to science at the highest levels.

1. Lucille V. Abad

Abad received the Julian A. Banzon Medal as a 2017 Outstanding Research and Development Awardee for her research on using irradiated seaweed as a plant growth supplement.

2. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay

Bandyopadhyay received the Infosys Prize 2017 in Engineering and Computer Science for her research in algorithmic optimization, which has led to the discovery of a genetic marker for breast cancer and the role of white blood cells in Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Chang Meemann

The first woman to head China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chang received the 2018 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for her pioneering work on fossil records leading to insights on how aquatic vertebrates adapted to life on land.

4. Pimchai Chaiyen

Chaiyen, who won the 2003 L’Oréal Thailand For Women in Science Award, received the 2017 L’Oréal Woman Scientist Crystal Award for her research into a cleaner way to produce chemicals.

5. Choi Sookyung Gyeongsang

A renowned particle physicist, Choi received the 2017 Ho-Am Prize for her discovery of a new class of subatomic particles named XYZ mesons. Together with her colleagues in the Belle experiment, Choi was the first to observe the X(3872) meson, a subatomic particle made of quarks and gluons. Although such exotic hadrons were first proposed over 50 years ago, they were only found by experimentalists in 2003 and subsequently confirmed by seven other experimental groups, making them the first and most well-understood type of XYZ meson.

6. Tanzima Hashem

Hashem was awarded the 2017 Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for her work in developing computational approaches to privacy protection.

7. Napida Hinchiranan

Hinchiranan was awarded the 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship for her studies on using natural rubber to create value-added products.

8. Pussana Hirunsit

Hirunsit won the 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science National Award for her research on environmentally friendly nanocatalysts.

9. V. Narry Kim

Kim, the director of the Institute for Basic Science at Seoul National University, received the 2017 Chen Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Human Genetic and Genomic Research for her studies into the role of microRNAs in development and cancer.

10. Li Jingmei

For her work on mammographic density and its impact on women’s health, Li received the 2017 Young Scientist Award at the President’s Science and Technology Awards. In 2014, Li won the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science National Fellowship. More recently, the senior research scientist at the Genome Institute of Singapore was inducted as a class of 2018 National Research Foundation Fellow, an award that offers early career researchers up to S$3 million in funding over five years.

11. Long Ran

Long won the 2017 L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent award for her research on photocatalysts for carbon dioxide reduction.

12. Anchalee Manonukul

For her work on powder metallurgy, Manonukul received the 2017 L’Oréal Woman Scientist Crystal Award, a special award commemorating the 15th anniversary of the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards in Thailand.

13. Marisa Ponpuak

Ponpuak received the 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship for her research on autophagy aimed at finding new drugs for malaria and tuberculosis.

14. Sheetal Sharma

Sharma won the 2017 Japan International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers for her work on Crop Manager for India, a tool that provides site-specific nutrient recommendations to farmers.

15. Son Young-Sook

Son received the 2017 L’Oréal Korea-UNSECO Award for Women in Life Science for her research on the ability of stem cells to self-heal.

16. Jenny Huey-Jen Su

Su, president of National Cheng Kung University, was recognized with the 2017 Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Leadership Award for her timely and effective response to two emergency events in Taiwan: a dengue fever outbreak in Tainan City in 2015 and a magnitude 6.4 earthquake in 2016. An air pollution researcher, Su has conducted research on airborne microbial hazards and helped to shape policies at the national and international level.

17. Felycia Edi Soetaredjo

For her work on using biomass for environmental remediation, Soetaredjo was awarded the 2017 Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World. In her research, Soetaredjo converts biomass and clay into absorbents that can be used to remove hazardous compounds such as antibiotics, heavy metals and dyes from wastewater. She is also in the process of patenting a method using Fenton reagents that can be used to degrade 98 percent of the pollutants in wastewater.

18. Tu Youyou

Tu, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was awarded the 2017 Preeminent Science and Technology Award, the top award for science in China.

19. Jackie Y. Ying

In 2017, Ying became the first woman to receive the Abdeali Tayebali Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognized her contributions to nanotechnology research. She was also named a fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors that year.

20. Aletta Concepcion T. Yñiguez

Yñiguez won the 2017 National Academy of Science and Technology Outstanding Young Scientist Award for her work on modeling the dynamics of the ocean ecosystem to build early warning systems.

21. Yu Nam-Kyung

Yu was recognized as a 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent for her work on Rett syndrome, a genetic neurological disorder.

Science Topics
Inventions & Scientists
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Women & Girls, Role Models
Biologist, Chemist, Engineer (Materials), Engineer (Software), Farmer, Geneticist, Inventor, Mettalurgist, Neuroscientist, Paleontologist, Pharmacologist, Physician, Physicist, Researcher, Scientist (Computer)
K-6, Middle School, High School
3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Adults

What are you looking for?


Asian Scientist

Website URL

Type of Resource


Assigned Categories