Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. The world of research is still dominated by men. But the role of female researchers is equally important in making achievements and winning international awards.

In the Talk to Scientists webinar, Tuesday (08/03), Neni Sintawardani, a researcher in the field of Environmental Technology at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) shared her experience in doing research since 1983.

The woman who won the Underwriters Laboratories-ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2021, for the category of senior researcher recounted how she initially carried out research in the development of waste treatment technology up to making bio toilets for sanitation.

When she studied for her doctoral degree program at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, her research focused on development of anaerobic reactor technology for processing waste from agro-industry. Her research was then continued by developing similar reactors for treatment of environmental waste, such as tofu and tapioca waste.

The pilot-scale anaerobic plant technology has been successfully applied to wastewater treatment in 10 small-scale tofu factories in Sumedang. This technology can even produce biogas which has been utilized by 89 households.

Over time, Neni has established many research collaborations with international entities or individuals, one of which is collaborating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) in developing bio toilets or composting toilets. This research is to address sanitation problems in areas where water is scarce.

Bio toilet, which is a dry system toilet design, uses the matrix of sawdust as a medium to catch and decompose feces and urine. The waste from dry toilets or bio toilets can be used for compost.

“So we developed the concept of recycling. This means that from our own ‘waste’ (feces and urine) it is processed (with bio toilets), and can be used (as compost) to produce food. We eat the food and then excrete it. We need this recycling concept to form a sustainable society in the environment,” she explained.

Another outstanding researcher, Yenny Meliana, shared her success story in conducting research related to nano-emulsion technology, especially from natural materials. This technology has been applied in various products, such as cosmetics, pesticides, and hand sanitizers.

Yenny explained that since the pandemic, the Asia Pacific region is the highest in term of the market growth for cosmetics, which reaches 43 percent. The potential for research activities in the development of cosmetics is of course high.

Nano-emulsion and nano-encapsulation technology have been applied to formulate anti-cellulite agents from gotu kola and ginger plant extracts. The formulation is applied in the form of lotion product (anti-cellulite emugel) and consumed in the form of a capsule (anti-cellulite nanoencapsulation).

“Once applied, the product can reduce skin roughness by 25 percent, wrinkle depth is reduced by 6 percent, skin elasticity returns to 82 percent, and skin moisture is increased by 27 percent. For cosmetic products, nothing can return to normal up to 100 percent,” explained Yenny.

Nano-emulsion technology from the formulation of natural ingredients is also applied to anti-aging serum and perfume products. Recently, this 2021 Hitachi Award winner has also developed a nanosilver antiseptic gel formulation and essential oil for making hand sanitizers. This research is directed at hand sanitizer products that make the skin soft but not reduce the effectiveness of its performance in killing viruses.

“The results of screening test on SARS-COV-2 spike inhibitor, and hand sanitizer in this study have the potential to prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 virus by up to 88.2 percent,” she explained (tnt).