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OWSD fellows and members unite for Regional Workshop and Malaysia National Chapter relaunch in Kuala Lumpur

September 03, 2019

A four-day workshop brought together OWSD PhD Fellows in the Asia Pacific region while celebrating the re-launch of the OWSD Malaysia National Chapter.

From 20-24 August 2019, OWSD PhD and Early Career fellows, members of the Malaysia National Chapter and OWSD Secretariat, and other invited guests gathered at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the Asia Pacific Regional Workshop and re-launch of the OWSD Malaysia National Chapter. 

Following a welcome dinner on Tuesday, the events kicked off on Wednesday, 21 August. During the morning, OWSD fellows were specially invited to attend an Education Symposium and a Women in Science forum, which were part of the annual conference of the Federation of National Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Asian and Oceanian Region (FAOBMB) and the Malaysian Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (MSBMB) also taking place in the hotel. The Education Symposium focused on teaching methods, while the Women in Science forum, which was chaired by OWSD Malaysia National Chapter Chair Yang Mooi Lim, focused on ways to empower women leaders in science and how women scientists can amplify their impact. 

That afternoon saw the re-launch of the Malaysia National Chapter of OWSD, where National Chapter members also had the chance to meet with world-renowned scientists and academic leaders attending the FAOBMB and MSBMB conferences. While the Malaysia National Chapter was originally established in 2011, it took the opportunity of hosting the Regional Workshop to affirm a renewed commitment to facilitating and nurturing the advancement of women in science in Malaysia. The new logo for the National Chapter was unveiled by Datuk Dr. Asma Ismail, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Cheong Soon Keng, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Univeristi Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). National Chapter Chair Yang Mooi Lim explained that "The Malaysia National Chapter logo has a female in the centre representing the multitalented capabilities of women in their roles. On her shoulders are two international icons, the hibiscus flower and the twin towers, which represent patriotism and solidarity, as well as the contributions of Malaysian women scientists to the beloved country. The image of an atom represents the endeavor of OWSD in uniting all women scientists from the world. The red, blue, yellow and white colours are from the Malaysian flag." 

The OWSD Asia Pacific Regional Workshop, which took place from Thursday-Saturday, 22-24 August, consisted of various sessions designed to equip OWSD PhD fellows with the skills needed to excel in their scientific careers. Twenty-four PhD fellows from 11 countries (Bangladesh, Cameroon, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Zimbabwe) attended the workshop; 18 are completing their OWSD fellowship in Malaysia, while others came from China, India and Thailand to attend.

Tonya Blowers, OWSD Programme Coordinator, initiated the workshop with a session dedicated to helping the fellows to develop confident oral presentation skills. A special half-day session on improving academic writing - both for publication and for the doctoral thesis - followed, given by Ravi Murugesan of AuthorAID. Additional subjects covered over the three days included writing successful research grant proposals, establishing research collaborations, and working with or as PhD supervisors. Fellows were challenged to reflect on their career trajectories to-date and to look ahead towards identifying future career goals and what might be needed to get there. They were assisted in this by Nimanthi Jayathilaka and Shobha Poudel, who were part of the first cohort of OWSD Early Career Fellows in 2018 and were able to share their experiences of life after the PhD. 

"The sessions were loaded with so much information," said Maureen Chijoke-Okere, a 2016 PhD fellow from Nigeria. "I am going back fully recharged to do my work with commitment and diligence, and hope also to serve as a source of motivation for someone else to succeed." 

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