This week Indonesian scientists met with American counterparts in Jakarta to trade ideas and seek support for projects such as plastic made from local plants, new fuel cells and heartier varieties of rice.
Yessi Permana and Marsia Gustiananda research two very different topics - one biodegradable plastic, the other infectious diseases. But both are driven by a desire to see their country prosper from domestically developed technology.
The researchers were participants at the KAVLI Frontiers of Science Symposium outside Jakarta - one of a series of conferences partly sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that bring together researchers from around the world to discuss advances and opportunities in their fields.
From bean to plastic
Permana is working to create a more environmentally-friendly plastic from the castor oil bean. His bigger goal is to find more industrial uses for the vast number of tropical plants that thrive in Indonesia.Creating plastic from plants will help the country manage its waste disposal problems.
“My focus is on utilizing Indonesian potential," Yessi said. "The biomass is so abundantly available here.My motivation is doing this so I can say to the foreign companies, you want to come to my country do not export the raw materials, buy the end products.”
Although many companies now create plastic from renewable resources to avoid the use of chemical fuel, Permana says his research is unique because it uses non-edible materials that will not clog landfills.
Reworking the system
Permana worked in Japan after receiving his doctorate from the University of Tokyo, but says he was disappointed when he realized how international manufacturing supply chains frequently work.
The problem, as he saw it, was that raw materials brought from Indonesia were being converted into end products in Japan and then resold to the Indonesian market at a higher price.
The 36-year-old scientist says he decided to leave Japan and return to Indonesia after a realization he made while changing diapers.
“Since I have to change diapers at home, I saw wet tissues needed for baby and baby oil products and I can see the components on it consisted of the hydrogenated castor oil," Permana said."The problem is they bought that not from an Indonesian company, they bought that from a Japanese company as an end product.And we just gave them the bean, the raw material."
Vaccines derived from genetic analysis
Marsia Gustiananda was also inspired by an ordinary event when she was living in the Netherlands and watched her son receive vaccinations that provide crucial protection against life-threatening diseases.
“This is something that really affects us, so it has a very broad social impact if you discover a vaccine that will work and prevent people from getting sick,” Gustiananda said.
Gustiananda is now a researcher at the Eijkman Institute, where she is using a new branch of genetic analysis called immunoinformatics to develop vaccines for influenza using computer models.
Indonesia’s health policies drew criticism from the international community in early 2007 when former Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari stopped sharing bird flu samples with the World Health Organization.She said the move was motivated by fears that pharmaceutical companies in the West would use viruses from Indonesia to make vaccines that were too expensive for developing countries.
Gustiananda, who calls Indonesia a “hypermarket” for infectious diseases, says research on disease should not spark protectionism.
“Influenza is a pathogen that can spread all over the world very quickly, so I think it is very important for many nations to really work together to tackle this problem,” Gustiananda said.
Other Indonesia scientists at the conference are pursuing green technologies by researching renewable energy and exploiting local materials.One project is trying to use zirconia, a tin byproduct, to create solid oxide fuel cells.That technology is currently used to power highly efficient cell phone antennas that can be scaled for use in rural communities.Another project was aimed at creating a new strain of rice that will better adapt to weather pattern transformations brought on by climate change.
Several participants urged the Indonesian government to encourage more such projects through greater funding for scientific research and development.
trade (v) 互相交換
variety (n) （植物、語言等的）變種，變體；異體；品種
advance (n) 進步；進展
印尼與美國的科學家們在雅加達會面，交換意見(trade ideas)，並且尋求支持(seek support)，希望促成利用印尼在地資源生產高科技產品的多項計劃。Yessi Permana 和Marsia Gustiananda是兩位不同領域的印尼科學家，一位研究可生物分解的塑膠材料(biodegradable plastic)，另一位則是研究傳染病(infectious diseases)。但這兩位印尼科學家的研究都同為同一種渴望驅動(both are driven by a desire to . . .)，都希望印尼可以靠國內自行研發的(domestically developed)科技有更好的發展(prosper)。與會的人士來自世界各地，討論各專業領域(fields)的進展與機會(advances and opportunities)。
thrive (v) 興旺發達；繁榮
end product (n phr) 製成品
clog (v) 阻塞
landfill (n) 廢物埋填地
component (n) 組成部份；成分
Permana現研究使用蓖麻油豆(castor oil bean)來製造環保的塑膠材質(environmentally-friendly plastic)。他更大的目標是要替印尼數量眾多(the vast number of…)、大量滋長(thrive)的熱帶植物(tropical plants)找出更多工業用途(industrial uses)。另一方面，植物為原料的塑膠產品也可以解決印尼當地的廢物處理問題(waste disposal problems)。Permana表示，印尼的生物質量(biomass)非常豐富，他希望透過他的研究，外國公司不再只是到印尼來出口原料(raw materials)，而是直接向印尼購買製好的成品(end products)。
Permana是在日本東京大學拿到博士學位(doctorate)。他在日本替小孩換尿布(change diapers)時發現，許多使用嬰兒油的原料都含有氫化蓖麻油(hydrogenated castor oil)。但問題是，這項原料所需的豆子是自印尼出口，但卻都是經過日本公司製作後再以成品賣出。
vaccination (n) 接種疫苗 * vaccine 疫苗
pharmaceutical (a) 製藥的；配藥的
pathogen (n) 病原體
tackle (v) 應付，處理
Marsia Gustiananda在荷蘭看到她兒子接種疫苗時(receive vaccinations)得到靈感。目前她研究一種使用電腦模型(computer models)來研發感冒疫苗的技術。在2007年的時候，印尼政府停止與世界衛生組織(WHO)分享禽流感的樣本(bird flu samples)，此衛生政策受到國際社會撻伐(health policies drew criticism from the international community)。Marsia Gustiananda說明，當時政府的這個政策是起因於恐懼(motivated by fears)，害怕西方世界的製藥廠(pharmaceutical companies)會使用印尼所提供的病毒來製造疫苗(vaccines)，然後再以高價賣回給開發中國家。Gustiananda 認為，疾病研究不應激起保護主義(should not spark protectionism)，流行性感冒是種能快速擴散全球的病原(pathogen)，因而需要各國共同合作來解決問題(tackle this problem)。
exploit (v) 開發；開採 *本字另一常用的意思是「剝削，壓榨」
scale (v) 改變…的大小
strain (n) 動、植物的）系，品系，品種
其它參與本次大會的印尼科學家也都積極研究綠能產業(green technologies)，以再生能源(renewable energy)和有效利用印尼的在地原料(exploiting local materials)為努力方向。