Teacher's Day on the 16th of January, is a time when we appreciate those who dedicate their lives to imparting knowledge helping shape the future. So, in this edition of the Friday Future Lister column, we focus on individuals from various fields who contribute to the betterment of learning. These individuals, with their diverse expertise, embody the true spirit of Teacher's Day.
Natapot Warrit, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Chulalongkorn University, is not your typical biology teacher. Head of the "largest nursery in Samyan area," he has a passion for nurturing life in all its forms, from lizards to ocean fish. Recognised with the "Outstanding Mid-career Researcher 2022 (Bio-Sciences)" award, Natapot is a mentor who pushes his students to explore their passions and think outside the box.
His dedication to biodiversity extends beyond the classroom. Organising an international conference for Chulalongkorn University, working with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. His work shows a positive and realistic way to tackle challenges.
Natapot specialises in bees and is making a database of Thailand’s bee pollinators. He’s also trying to identify every bee species in Thailand at the Bee and Spider Research Unit (BSRU). His work mixes research and teaching, showing education is more than just classroom and textbooks.
As an Assistant Professor in the Media and Communication program at Mahidol University International College, Dr. Bhanbhassa "Ning" Dhubthien combines academic rigour and creative passion with her teaching. Growing up with a vivid imagination, she found solace and freedom in the world of theatre. Her journey took her to The Actors Studio Drama School in New York, where she graduated as the only A student in her class, earning a lifetime membership alongside Hollywood legends Al Pacino and Julia Roberts.
Returning to Thailand, Dr. Ning played a crucial part in shaping the acting curriculum for Thai universities. Not content with confining knowledge to academic walls, she founded the LiFE Theatre and LiFE Creator company in 2007, making performing arts accessible to a wider audience through online classes. Dr. Ning's dedication to preserving local artistic heritage is evident in her research on the Thai "nang yai" shadow puppet tradition. Her accolades, include the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) Thailand Awards and the Kukrit Award, both underscoring her impact on the world of performing arts, breaking through limitations to elevate the arts to new heights.
Associate Professor Dr. Patompon Wongtrakoongate, with his expertise in RNA biology, leads the charge in biomedical innovation. His laboratory at Mahidol University is the first in Thailand to develop an in-house mRNA vaccine prototype for Covid-19, using a novel circular platform of ribonucleic acid (circular mRNA). This breakthrough allowed him to engineer a viral antigen for SARS-CoV-2 within just two months.
Beyond vaccine development, Dr. Patompon's laboratory generously provided a molecular toolbox for Covid-19 research to the Thai scientific community free of charge, expediting progress in the field.
Going beyond academic achievement, Dr. Patompon and his team founded Bio-Adventure, the first mRNA therapeutics startup in Thailand. Their goal is to translate innovative research into clinical applications, with a focus on transforming current medicines into novel therapeutics.
Driven by a desire to transform existing medicines into novel therapeutics, Dr. Patompon envisions a legacy where his biomedical research and inventions contribute to addressing future pandemics, genetic diseases, regenerative medicine, and cancers. His dedication to push the boundaries of biomedical science makes him a visionary whose work is poised to redefine the future of healthcare and research.
Varavudh Suteethorn, PhD Director, Paleontological Research and Education Centre, Mahasarakham University is one of the select few that has a dinosaur species named after him. With decades of experience, he has played a crucial role in discovering multiple fossil taxa and excavation sites in the Korat Plateau.
Through geological mapping he identified numerous fossil sites contributing significantly to Thailand's paleontological findings. In 1986, Siamosaurus suteethorni, a large dinosaur species with a head like a crocodile, was named in recognition of his efforts.
In 2006, he received the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Skinner Award for his notable and sustained contributions to scientific knowledge in fossil vertebrate collections and education. Dr. Varavudh was also honoured with a 2018 explorer award from National Geographic Thailand.
His work has expanded scientific knowledge and the understanding of Thailand's palaeontology.