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APEC-Australia Women in Research
Fellowship 2022
Dr. Siti Norasmah Surip
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Economy: Malaysia

Host Institution: La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Project Title: Development of PLA-Based Nano Bioplastic for Fruits Packaging

Project Outline: Plastic packaging is one of the economic ways to preserve the freshness of the fruits and prevent the growth of microorganisms on the surface of the fruits. Bioplastic film is a promising alternative material compared to conventional plastic and is an innovative food packaging concept being introduced due to the continuous changes in current consumer demands and market trends. Bioplastic is produced from natural and sustainable sources such as soy, corn, and starches. The most common bioplastic used in packaging industry is polylactic acid (PLA). The additional functions of bioplastic could be improved by introducing fillers and additives. In this study, nano bioplastic film packaging will

be produced by incorporating nanoclays and lemongrass essential oil into PLA. The produced nanocomposites will be further characterised for their mechanical, chemical, gas barrier, and microstructure properties. The feasibility of the nano bioplastic film packaging will be assessed by studying the shelf life of Australian-grown grapes. The weight, colour and firmness of the grapes will be recorded and monitored for a certain period of time. The new product is anticipated for its high physical and mechanical properties, and eco-friendly and it is expected to prolong the freshness of fruits compared to conventional packaging.


Reasons for applying for fellowship:

I am applying for APEC-Australia Women in Research Fellowship to broaden my networking and work with the expert from Australia University. It is expected that this research opportunity will help to bring diversity in different perspectives to solve the challenges in STEM and encourage the active transfer of knowledge, skills and technologies between Australia and Malaysia. Synergies in the development of nano bioplastic film for the fruits packaging industry could promote the translation of fundamental research to end-user products.

Past Achievements:

Appointed as Visiting Professor at the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, the University of Indonesia in 2020-2021, selected as a fellow for the ASEAN Scientific Leadership Program 2019, and received a postdoctoral fellowship by NanoMalaysia Berhad to work with a research team at IBM Almaden Lab, the USA in 2013-2014, awarded as Brain-gain Malaysia recipient for research attachment at University of Portsmouth United Kingdom in 2009-2010 and awarded as Malaysia youngest PhD holder by the National University of Malaysia in 2007.

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