Jackie Yi-Ru Ying: First Scientist to be Elected as a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering

Jackie Yi-Ru Ying: First Scientist to be Elected as a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering

“The Spotlight” brings to light the stories of Muslim women of the past and present. In this instalment, we tell the success story of Jackie Ri-Yu Ying, an inspirational Muslim woman who is the first scientist to be elected as a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

American nanotechnology scientist and the founding executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying, becomes the first scientist to be elected as a member of the US National Academy of Engineering. She is one of the only two new members, among the 106 new American members elected, who were chosen outside of the United States.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. It was no easy feat for Jackie to be elected, given that she has been residing outside the US for the past 18 years.

“I am deeply honoured to be elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. I am grateful to the American colleagues for nominating and electing me. This is a recognition of our multidisciplinary research conducted at the NanoBio Lab (NBL) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore and MIT. I am fortunate to be blessed with a team of creative and passionate researchers, students, and collaborators. I look forward to making more impact through the commercialization of the latest technologies that we have developed.”

– Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying

Who is Jackie Yi-Ru Ying?

Born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1966, Jackie moved to Singapore with her family in 1973 where she was a student at Rulang Primary School and Raffles Girls’ School before finally moving to the US at the age of 15. She first received her BE and PhD from Cooper Union and Princeton University, before joining the MIT faculty in 1992. She converted to Islam in the 90s and was made a full professor in 2001. At the age of 35, she became one of MIT’s youngest full professors.

Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying

Jackie returned to Singapore in 2003 to serve as the first executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, a division of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and in March 2018, she stepped down from her position as Executive Director at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to lead her own lab, NanoBio lab.

Since 2003, Jackie has served as the founding executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, and because of her research on nanostructured materials has been recognized by countless awards, some of which include the American Ceramic Society Ross C. Purdy Award, the American Chemical Society Faculty Fellowship Award in Solid-State Chemistry, the Technology Review’s Inaugural TR100 Young Innovator Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Allan P. Colburn Award, Wall Street Journal Asia’s Asian Innovation Silver Award, the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Jubilee Medal, Materials Research Society Fellowship, Royal Society of Chemistry Fellowship, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellowship, and Crown Prince Grand Prize in the Brunei Creative, Innovative Product and Technological Advancement (CIPTA) Award.

Jackie has also been elected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and was named as one of the One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era by AlChE in its Centennial Celebration. She was also selected by The Muslim 500 in 2012, 2013, and 2014 as part of the world’s most influential Muslims, and was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015 Jackie was one of the recipients of the inaugural Mustafa Prize, awarded by the Mustafa Science and Technology Foundation, and was awarded the Top Scientific Achievement Award for her contributions in the field of nanostructured materials and systems.

Jackie was also named a Fellow of the United States National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2017, which made her the first Singapore-based scientist to earn the highest professional accolade for academic inventors. In the same year, she was elected into the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Inventors and was later elected into the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) after winning the (TÜBA) Academy Prize in Science and Engineering Sciences in 2018.

Today, Jackie has more than 190 primary patents, 41 of which have been licensed to multinational companies and start-ups in the field of nanomedicine, drug delivery, medical implants, cell and tissue engineering, and medical devices.

Jackie Yi-Ru Ying remains a powerful inspiration for Muslim women everywhere in the field of science and technology, encouraging many more women to study and work in the ever-growing and important field of STEM.

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