Dr Tatas Brotosudarmo at work extraction ©

MRCPP, Universitas Ma Chung

Professional Achievement Award – Dr Tatas Hardo Panintingjati Brotosudarmo

From: Indonesia

UK degree: PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Dr Tatas Hardo Panintingjati Brotosudarmo is a leading researcher in photosynthesis pigments in Indonesia. His work has led to changes in government policy on the harmful use of synthetic food colouring.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER AND ACHIEVEMENTS

I am the head of the Photosynthetic Pigments Research Centre at Ma Chung University in East Java, Indonesia. My research is focused on the extraction, isolation and commercial scale-up of natural pigments which are found in seaweed, flowers, plants and roots. 

I am also the President-elect of the Indonesia Chemical Society, recipient of the 22nd Science and Technology Award from the Indonesia Toray Science Foundation, and in 2013 I was invited to attend the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. 

HOW DID STUDYING IN THE UK CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SUCCESS?

I completed a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Glasgow, with scholarship funding from the Marie Curie Research Training Network EU.

As a doctoral candidate I had the opportunity to study under the supervision of Professor Richard J Cogdell, FRS, a highly respected scientist in the field of photosynthesis, who discovered the first structure of bacterial light-harvesting complex. Professor Cogdell was a huge inspiration to me and pivotal in shaping my career. 

As a supervisor he opened doors that led to the international networks and exposure I have benefitted from throughout my career with opportunities to collaborate with many great scientists.

On one occasion Professor Cogdell invited me to participate in a meeting at the Royal Society at Carton House Terrace in London, where the discussion was centered around the role of higher education and research in society. This has had a lasting impact on my career and the concept of building a nation through research and science has driven my work. 

WHAT IS THE WIDER IMPACT OF YOUR RESEARCH?

My work recently led to changes in the government policy on the use of synthetic food colourings, turning instead to safer, natural alternatives. This change secures the place of photosynthetic pigments on the national research agenda. 

Natural pigments research has many benefits for agriculture, food, health and renewable energy. Putting this research on the national agenda is a big step for Indonesia which abounds in biodiversity and natural pigments. 

The hope is that through public awareness of the dangers of synthetic food colourings, and with backing from the government, there will be a shift towards the use of natural food colourings.

Dr Tatas Hardo Panintingjati Brotosudarmo is the winner of the Study UK Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, Indonesia 2017.

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