Being one of the three women recognised for her research efforts that may potentially save the lives of millions by tackling large-scale global challenges, Dr Teh Su Yean is a huge advocate for unifying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Dr Teh’s dedication bagged her a position as L’Oreal-UNESCO’s Women In Science 2017. Her first focus and priority is to protect Malaysia’s coastal resources. We sit down with the self-proclaimed introvert to discuss the local marine environment, women in STEM, and common misconceptions.
Tell me about your experience from research visits to The Greater Everglades of Florida.
No matter how many trips I have made to the Greater Everglades of Florida, the wetland never ceases to amaze me with its massive size, its great biodiversity and its stunning landscape. I get to work with wonderful scientists from various disciplines, namely biologists, hydrologists and ecologists, who are more than willing to share their knowledge and data for our modeling work that takes into account unknown factors such as future climate change to enable better protection and restoration of the Everglades’ ecosystem. I see the intense and long term commitment of the scientists in their research on Evergladesthey even build their own boardwalk to get access into the dense mangrove forest (where there is no way, make your own way!). I hope to inherit that level of passion in my work and instill such values among the young generation.
Apart from being able to experience another form of research culture, I get to experience the thrills associated with field excursions into nature; I have cycled along fenceless trails with wild alligators sunbathing on either side; I had to hang on to a mangrove tree branch at the edge of a mangrove island somewhere in Florida Bay when a sudden storm threatened to capsize our small motorboat; I nearly fell off the boat just when a juvenile shark swam pass the side of the boat.