Research integrating economy, environment and society wins APEC science prize

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Dr Jingzheng Ren

By Chiang Mai

BANGKOK, Thailand – A scientist specializing in sustainability science and process systems engineering for energy, environment and sustainability has won the 2022 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education – also known as ASPIRE.

Dr Jingzheng Ren was selected by consensus as the APEC region’s top young science researcher this year. Through his research, he unfolded new methods to promote an integrated development of the economy, environment and society, including through bio-circular-green practice.

He has been published in more than 200 publications and, in November 2020, was ranked in the top two percent of scientists in The Stanford List under the field of energy. Some of his research has proven to be helpful to enhance understanding of waste-to-energy conversion, technology for sustainable food production and industrial activities, as well as carbon-neutral tourism.

“The transition to a more sustainable practice for our industries in the region is complex and costly, but very much critical,” said Dr Ren, who was nominated by Hong Kong, China and is an associate professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“My research aims to improve the understanding of this transition by developing innovative industrial processes to achieve sustainability-oriented decision-making and optimization,” he added. “This can help the decision-makers to make informed decisions in achieving sustainable industrial systems by considering various objectives, dimensions, scales and multiple stakeholders.”

Dr Ren was selected from a group of 13 finalists, each nominated by APEC member economies under Thailand’s 2022 ASPIRE theme, “Innovation to Achieve Environmental, Economic, and Social Goals.” All nominees were considered based on their dedication to excellence in scientific research and collaboration with other APEC economies.

“Dr Ren’s research is the perfect example of excellence and innovation to achieve economic, environmental and social goals,” said Dr Pasit Lorterapong, the deputy permanent secretary of Thailand’s ministry of higher education, science, research and innovation.

“Sustainability, including through the bio-circular-green economy, are key to a resilient and more advanced economic development in the future,” Dr Pasit added: “Dr Ren’s research, especially on the development of the circular economy, recycling, industrial systems and supply network optimization, provides us with knowledge and helps us address future environmental and economic challenges.”

The ASPIRE winner was announced by science, technology, and innovation officials from the APEC member economies at an award ceremony hosted in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“Our goal is to promote and advance excellence in scientific research and strengthen international collaboration,” said Xuemei Yang, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology, and Innovation. “The ASPIRE allows APEC to celebrate the accomplishments of our region’s researchers and their joint efforts in supporting policymakers address global challenges.”

Also watch: The 2022 ASPIRE Winner, Dr Jingzheng Ren on Promoting Sustainability Through Policies

For his achievement, Dr Ren was awarded a prize of USD 25,000, supported by publishers of scholarly scientific knowledge and co-sponsors of ASPIRE, Wiley and Elsevier.

“We congratulate Dr Ren for his pioneering work on the integrated, sustainable development of the economy, the environment and society at large,” said Brian Napack, president and chief executive officer of Wiley. “His collaboration with twelve APEC economies clearly highlights a deep commitment to cross-border cooperation in this important endeavor.”

“The ASPIRE continues to celebrate international scientific values and showcase high-impact researchers lighting the pathway to an economically inclusive and sustainable future,” he added.

“The pandemic heightened the economic, environmental and social complexities that the Asia-Pacific region – and the world more broadly – faces today,” said Youngsuk “Y.S.” Chi, chairman of Elsevier. “The ASPIRE prize has highlighted the outstanding talent and dedication of Dr Ren and the other nominees, who have worked hard to find solutions to these critical issues. I have no doubt that their research will promote sustainable and collaborative development in our society.”

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