31 December 2020

Swinburne student wins 2nd place at international biotechnology competition

KUCHING – Two teams of biotechnology students from Swinburne took part in the recent 6th International Biotechnology Competition and Exhibition 2020 (IBCEx 2020).

The event was organised by the Bioprocess Engineering Student Society (BIOSS) of the School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor Bahru. Swinburne was represented by two teams in the Environment/Waste Treatment and Biotechnology categories led by biotechnology lecturers Dr Daniel Tan and Dr Xavier Chee.

In the Biotechnology category, final-year undergraduate Christopher Ha Heng Xuan won second place with his project title ‘Machine Learning-driven Drug Discovery of HIV Integrase Inhibitors’. The project aimed to discover new drugs that could prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

Ha started working on his project since January 2020 when he signed up for the 2nd FECS Future Researcher Internship Programme. Prior to joining the programme, Ha had little knowledge about machine learning but with the constant guidance from his mentor Dr Chee, they created a machine learning model that was able to predict potential drugs to treat AIDS.

38 teams from 15 universities across Asia presented their innovative ideas to experts in the field and industrial partners throughout the two-day virtual event. With the theme ‘Empowering Nations: Towards A More Sustainable Future’, the innovative products were judged based on the originality and creativity of the idea proposed, as well as its impact towards a more sustainable future.

The competition was split into four categories namely Environment/Waste Treatment, Biofuel/Renewable Energy, Green Product/Green Building, and Biotechnology. On the first day, the teams in each category competed to secure their spots as the top three finalists. The following day, the three finalists competed for the best innovation in their respective categories.

Since 2015, UTM has been organising the annual IBCEx to push innovation within the field of biotechnology by providing a conducive platform for undergraduates all over Asia to exhibit their innovative ideas and communicate with like-minded young scientists from different countries.

Swinburne’s School of Chemical Engineering and Science offers the three-year Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) and Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) programmes. The biotechnology programme places strong emphasis on real-world practical applications where students are trained in both technical and soft skills needed in a wide range of industries while the environmental science degree looks into the exploration of scientific principles to solve ecological issues.

For more enquiries on programmes and short courses, email to study@swinburne.edu.my. For other information, visit www.swinburne.edu.my or its Facebook page (@swinburnesarawak), Instagram (@swinburnesarawak), Twitter (@Swinburne_Swk) or YouTube channel (Swinburne Sarawak).

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Marcella Gider
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