UCL academic honoured with prestigious IUPAC award

Professor Nguyen T.K. Thanh
Professor Nguyen T.K. Thanh

Professor Nguyen T. K. Thanh (UCL Physics & Astronomy) is one of only 12 recipients globally of this year’s Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering Awards, bestowed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

The awards programme, initiated as part of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry celebrations, was created to acknowledge and promote the work of women chemists and chemical engineers worldwide.

IUPAC said the 12 awardees had been selected based on excellence in basic or applied research, distinguished accomplishments in teaching or education, or demonstrated leadership or managerial excellence in the chemical sciences. The awards committee was particularly interested, IUPAC said, in nominees with a history of leadership and/or community service during their careers.

Professor Thanh, who is Professor of Nanomaterials at UCL, said: "I am delighted because my work is recognised by my international peers. I am proud of all the achievements by women in science and in chemistry and chemical engineering in particular."

Professor Thanh’s work has advancedá fundamental understanding of chemical syntheses and her physical studies of nanomaterials could be used to help with diagnosis and treatment of cancer as well as other biomedical applications.

Using cells in the lab, she has demonstrated a new way to deliver chemotherapy via magnetic nanoparticles, which has the potential to improve cancer treatment. She is also investigating a replacement for gadolinium, a contrast agent used for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that cannot be used in people with kidney failure and whose use has the potential to contaminate water supplies.

The IUPAC awards were announced ahead of this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a global day falling on February 11 which celebrates achievement and promotes full and equal access and participation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The awards presentation will be made during the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress to be held in August 2023.

Professor Mary Garson, Chair of the IUPAC Committee for Ethics, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said: "I warmly congratulate this year’s group of 12 awardees, selected from an impressive list of high achieving and creative women chemists or chemical engineers from all around the globe.

"In their individual stories, each of the 2023 nominees reveal a willingness to share their expertise and experiences with other chemists, and a passion for science. Their activities and outreach advance the chemical and chemical engineering sciences in so many diverse ways.

As we acknowledge all of the nominees and congratulate the 12 awardees, I am confident that their individual stories will inspire women scientists worldwide and provide encouragement to all of us to advance the chemistry of the future."

Professor Thanh is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. Last year she received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Interdisciplinary Prize, recognising the brilliance of her research and innovation. She was also awarded the RSC/SCI 2023 Graham Prize Lectureship, recognising outstanding research by a mid-career researcher in the field of colloid and interface science, and was named a finalist for the Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition, for her work on nanomaterials that could potentially be used to deliver cancer treatment.