PhD, FASc, KMN
Dr Tan Swee Lian was a plant breeder at the Malaysian Agricultural Research & Development Institute (MARDI) for 37½ years, during which time she worked mainly on cassava and sweetpotato. Through her efforts, MARDI released five cassava varieties, viz. Perintis, MM92, Sri Kanji 1, Sri Kanji 2 and Sri Pontian, as well as four sweetpotato varieties, namely, Gendut, Telong, Jalomas and VitAtoTM.
Dr Tan is recognized locally as well as internationally for her research on cassava and sweetpotato. She was a member of the Asian Cassava Research Advisory Committee (co-ordinated by CIAT) from 1990, and a member of the Asian Network for Sweetpotato Genetic Resources (ANSWER) from 1996, representing Malaysia in both until her retirement. In 2001, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) appointed her a member of the Centre-Commissioned External Review Panel for its activities in the methodologies and strategies for plant genetic conservation and use, covering China, Nepal and Italy. She was also Chairperson of the Working Group on Cassava for the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) from 2002-2006. In this capacity, she organized the 2nd International Symposium for Sweetpotato and Cassava in 2005 for MARDI and ISHS.
Dr Tan Swee Lian has won the excellent service award in MARDI several times – for the years 1988, 1993, 2000, 2003 and 2007. She also won the MARDI Publications Award in 2003 for the most number of significant scientific publications for the years 2001-2002. She was also part of the team which won MARDI’s Award for Best Team Research in 2006/2007 for her work on the sweetpotato variety, VitAtoTM.
Her national service in agriculture was acknowledged through the conferment of the Federal Award Kesateria Mangku Negara (Protector of the Realm) in 1993, and the national level Maulidur Rasul Award in 2010. She was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences, Malaysia in 2009.
Dr Tan continues to be occupied in her retirement with various tasks and responsibilities: