Research team

MEET
   THE TEAM

Our team at Sime Darby Oils Nutrition is constantly at the forefront of the industry. Driven to solve problems of today with solutions of tomorrow.

We truly believe that our scientists are the true heroes. Breaking barriers and pushing boundaries for a better future.

MEET
   THE TEAM

Our team at Sime Darby Oils Nutrition is constantly at the forefront of the industry. Driven to solve problems of today with solutions of tomorrow. 

We truly believe that our scientists are the true heroes. Breaking barriers and pushing boundaries for a better future.

Chris Thoen

Chris Thoen is a globally recognized Senior Executive with broad experience in R&D Innovation, with over three decades of international (Belgium, UK, Switzerland, USA) expertise in FMCG, Food & Beverage and Flavors & Fragrances. Chris has more than 80 patents including many commercial innovations supporting multiple successful market introductions. Chris started his career in 1986 as a research scientist at Plant Genetic Systems in Ghent, Belgium where he worked on insect and herbicide resistance in agricultural crops. In 1988 Chris joined P&G and assumed assignments with increasing management responsibilities in Fabric & Home Care and Personal Health Care, culminating in leading the global Connect+Develop R&D activities. He was also a key spokesperson for P&G’s Open Innovation capabilities. In 2011, Chris joined Givaudan as SVP of Flavors Science & Technology and was later appointed Givaudan’s EVP/Chief Technology Officer and served on the Executive Committee before retiring in August 2018. Upon his return to the USA, he joined Bühler Inc as Innovation Director to support Bühler’s innovation journey on the Future of Food to ensure we can sustainably feed 10 Billion people in 2050. Chris is currently also an angel/seed investor and serves on several Technology Advisory Boards. Chris holds a Ph. D. in Biochemistry from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He holds dual citizenship in the USA and Belgium.

Dr David Appleton
Head of Department

Dr David has been with Sime Darby Plantation since 2010. He currently holds two positions as Head of Product Innovation & Development for Sime Darby Oils and Head of Biotechnology & Breeding in Sime Darby Plantation Research & Development. He has a PhD in Chemistry from The University of Auckland, New Zealand and has over 23 years experience in the Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals and Manufacturing industries.

His accolades include successfully leading research programmes to develop and commercialise genetic tools for oil palm crop improvement at Sime Darby Plantation, and previously developed several new techniques and novel discoveries in academic and commercial research spanning 12 years in the field of natural products bioactives and drug discovery. He has published over 50 scientific journals and books and filed 13 patents to date.

Learn more
Amirul Hakim Noor Haizat
Technical Business Developer

Amirul is a Yayasan Sime Darby scholar and is currently responsible for technical business development for Sime Darby Oils Nutrition. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Natural Sciences degree specialising in Biochemistry from University of Cambridge.

He started his career as a molecular biologist at Sime Darby Plantation Research and Development. He was involved in upstream improvement projects including oil loss reduction initiative in palm oil processing as well as high-value compounds production from palm oil waste in collaboration with top scientists from the MIT, USA. In 2017, he became the Special Officer to the CEO before pursuing an MBA degree at University of Oxford. He was awarded the Dean’s List for exceptional academic performance.

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Dr. Teh Huey Fang
Industrial Chemistry Team Lead

Dr. Teh Huey Fang has been with Sime Darby Plantation since 2008. She has over 18 years of R&D experience in the areas of Nanotechnology and Applied Chemistry. In her current role, she leads a team on projects related to nutrition and oil chemistry-related R & D projects. She has previously led several research projects for oil palm crop improvement, oil palm processing, and quality-related area at Sime Darby Plantation Technology Centre..The projects ranged from industry–university collaborations for technology, knowledge-transfer, and commercialization projects.

She is also a registered chemist from the Institute Chemistry of Malaysia and a certified Innovation Professional from the Global Innovation Management Institute. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and MBA from Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. Her BSc. in Oleo-chemistry was obtained from the School of Chemistry Science and Food Technology, National University of Malaysia.

Before joining Sime Darby, she was a research engineer in the Biosensor Lab, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*STAR Singapore. Hitherto, she has also published more than 20 scientific journals and books and filed 6 patents to date.

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Dr. Sylvia Kong Pei San
Global Product Innovation & Development

Dr. Sylvia Kong Pei San obtained bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Engineering Science in University of Malaya, Malaysia. She received her PhD in National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse, France. She previously worked in oleochemical industry and mainly involved in catalysis and specialty esters product development. She has over 10 years’ experience in palm oil industry. Currently, Dr Sylvia joins Innovation Centre Asia, part of Global Product Innovation & Development team of Sime Darby Oils. Her current focus is to develop new or improved oils and fats products based on market trend; working on products commercialization and provide technical support to customers and refineries. She has published more than 18 ISI papers that have garnered more than 288 citations. She is also a Chartered Member in IChemE.

Theresa Ng Lee Mei
Senior Scientist - Industrial Chemistry Team

Theresa Ng Lee Mei is a scientist with Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) since 2011. She actively conducts research for downstream product development. As an expert in analytical chemistry, she has carried out numerous method development for oil palm metabolomics studies.

She has a Masters degree in Science from University of Malaya and had published several high impact peer-reviewed publications. She is also a registered Associate Chemist from Malaysian Institute of Chemistry (IKM) since 2010.

Additionally, she is part of the Environmental, Safety and Health team that ensures SDP’s research facilities comply to safety standards and to conduct related trainings. Prior to her career at SDP, she was a chemist in the water testing industry for 2 years.

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Haniza Ahmad
Senior Nutritionist - Oils & Fats Team

Haniza Ahmad was born in Johor, Malaysia. She holds a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology from University Sains Malaysia in 1997 and a Bachelor Degrees in Nutrition and Community Health from University Putra Malaysia, Malaysia in 2000. Haniza Ahmad started her career at Sime Darby Research Centre in 2010. She was appointed as a Nutritionist in Food & Agribusiness Innovation Centre before joining Oils & Fats research 4 years later. She has been a Senior Nutritionist in Oils & Fats Unit, Sime Darby Research Sdn. Bhd for 5 years and been working on Food Safety and HACCP certification initiatives for Sime Darby Plantation Palm Oil Mills. She is also pioneered and active in Sensory Evaluation Science and research program for Oils & Fats products, Innovation Center Asia and also palm oil refineries. Currently, she joins Innovation Center Asia, undertaking product development, innovation and application works. Apart from that, she also provides technical services such as nutrition composition, product labelling and food regulations for refineries and other departments under Sime Darby Oils.

Amelia Najwa
Scientist - Oils & Fats Team

Amelia started her journey in Sime Darby Plantation Research and Development in August 2018 under the SL1M program. She was then offered a position as a Scientist in the Oils and Fats department after 9 months in the said program. At the moment she is entrusted to focus primarily on new product development where her area of research emphasizes on finding dairy and animal fat replacers for cheese and vegan food products.

She had also assisted in analyzing the properties in rancid vegetable oils to determine the correlation between oil quality and volatile compounds emitted. The findings were selected by the organizer and presented at PIPOC 2019 in KLCC.

Amelia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder, United States of America. During her university years, she did a research project on using lemongrass essential oil to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by using fruit flies larvae as the model organism. It has been her interest to pursue in R&D field as it will give her opportunities to challenge herself and to explore new discoveries in related areas.

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Nur Azwani
Analytical - Oils & Fats Team

Nur Azwani has been with Sime Darby Plantation Research since 2009 and currently leading the Analytical - Oils & Fats, Unit. She has a Master Degree in Chemisty and Bachelor Degree in Industrial Chemistry from Universiti Technology Malaysia, Johor. She involved in downstream research projects related to development of fats and oils products and analytical method. Strategic project led by her are medium- and long- chain palm-based triglycerides, high triglycerides palm oil. She has published several scientific journals and patents.

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Chris Thoen
Chris Thoen is a globally recognized Senior Executive with broad experience in R&D Innovation, with over three decades of international (Belgium, UK, Switzerland, USA) expertise in FMCG, Food & Beverage and Flavors & Fragrances. Chris has more than 80 patents including many commercial innovations supporting multiple successful market introductions. Chris started his career in 1986 as a research scientist at Plant Genetic Systems in Ghent, Belgium where he worked on insect and herbicide resistance in agricultural crops. In 1988 Chris joined P&G and assumed assignments with increasing management responsibilities in Fabric & Home Care and Personal Health Care, culminating in leading the global Connect+Develop R&D activities. He was also a key spokesperson for P&G’s Open Innovation capabilities. In 2011, Chris joined Givaudan as SVP of Flavors Science & Technology and was later appointed Givaudan’s EVP/Chief Technology Officer and served on the Executive Committee before retiring in August 2018. Upon his return to the USA, he joined Bühler Inc as Innovation Director to support Bühler’s innovation journey on the Future of Food to ensure we can sustainably feed 10 Billion people in 2050. Chris is currently also an angel/seed investor and serves on several Technology Advisory Boards. Chris holds a Ph. D. in Biochemistry from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He holds dual citizenship in the USA and Belgium.
Dr David Appleton
Head of Department
Dr David has been with Sime Darby Plantation since 2010. He currently holds two positions as Head of Product Innovation & Development for Sime Darby Oils and Head of Biotechnology & Breeding in Sime Darby Plantation Research & Development. He has a PhD in Chemistry from The University of Auckland, New Zealand and has over 23 years experience in the Agriculture, Pharmaceuticals and Manufacturing industries.

His accolades include successfully leading research programmes to develop and commercialise genetic tools for oil palm crop improvement at Sime Darby Plantation, and previously developed several new techniques and novel discoveries in academic and commercial research spanning 12 years in the field of natural products bioactives and drug discovery. He has published over 50 scientific journals and books and filed 13 patents to date.
Learn more
Amirul Hakim Noor Haizat
Technical Business Developer
Amirul is a Yayasan Sime Darby scholar and is currently responsible for technical business development for Sime Darby Oils Nutrition. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Natural Sciences degree specialising in Biochemistry from University of Cambridge.

He started his career as a molecular biologist at Sime Darby Plantation Research and Development. He was involved in upstream improvement projects including oil loss reduction initiative in palm oil processing as well as high-value compounds production from palm oil waste in collaboration with top scientists from the MIT, USA. In 2017, he became the Special Officer to the CEO before pursuing an MBA degree at University of Oxford. He was awarded the Dean’s List for exceptional academic performance.
Click Here
Dr. Teh Huey Fang
Industrial Chemistry Team Lead
Dr. Teh Huey Fang has been with Sime Darby Plantation since 2008. She has over 18 years of R&D experience in the areas of Nanotechnology and Applied Chemistry. In her current role, she leads a team on projects related to nutrition and oil chemistry-related R & D projects. She has previously led several research projects for oil palm crop improvement, oil palm processing, and quality-related area at Sime Darby Plantation Technology Centre..The projects ranged from industry–university collaborations for technology, knowledge-transfer, and commercialization projects.

She is also a registered chemist from the Institute Chemistry of Malaysia and a certified Innovation Professional from the Global Innovation Management Institute. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and MBA from Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. Her BSc. in Oleo-chemistry was obtained from the School of Chemistry Science and Food Technology, National University of Malaysia.

Before joining Sime Darby, she was a research engineer in the Biosensor Lab, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*STAR Singapore. Hitherto, she has also published more than 20 scientific journals and books and filed 6 patents to date.
Click Here
Dr. Sylvia Kong Pei San
Global Product Innovation & Development
Dr. Sylvia Kong Pei San obtained bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Engineering Science in University of Malaya, Malaysia. She received her PhD in National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse, France. She previously worked in oleochemical industry and mainly involved in catalysis and specialty esters product development. She has over 10 years’ experience in palm oil industry. Currently, Dr Sylvia joins Innovation Centre Asia, part of Global Product Innovation & Development team of Sime Darby Oils. Her current focus is to develop new or improved oils and fats products based on market trend; working on products commercialization and provide technical support to customers and refineries. She has published more than 18 ISI papers that have garnered more than 288 citations. She is also a Chartered Member in IChemE.
Theresa Ng Lee Mei
Senior Scientist - Industrial Chemistry Team
Theresa Ng Lee Mei is a scientist with Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) since 2011. She actively conducts research for downstream product development. As an expert in analytical chemistry, she has carried out numerous method development for oil palm metabolomics studies.

She has a Masters degree in Science from University of Malaya and had published several high impact peer-reviewed publications. She is also a registered Associate Chemist from Malaysian Institute of Chemistry (IKM) since 2010.

Additionally, she is part of the Environmental, Safety and Health team that ensures SDP’s research facilities comply to safety standards and to conduct related trainings. Prior to her career at SDP, she was a chemist in the water testing industry for 2 years.
Click Here
Haniza Ahmad
Senior Nutritionist - Oils & Fats Team
Haniza Ahmad was born in Johor, Malaysia. She holds a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology from University Sains Malaysia in 1997 and a Bachelor Degrees in Nutrition and Community Health from University Putra Malaysia, Malaysia in 2000. Haniza Ahmad started her career at Sime Darby Research Centre in 2010. She was appointed as a Nutritionist in Food & Agribusiness Innovation Centre before joining Oils & Fats research 4 years later. She has been a Senior Nutritionist in Oils & Fats Unit, Sime Darby Research Sdn. Bhd for 5 years and been working on Food Safety and HACCP certification initiatives for Sime Darby Plantation Palm Oil Mills. She is also pioneered and active in Sensory Evaluation Science and research program for Oils & Fats products, Innovation Center Asia and also palm oil refineries. Currently, she joins Innovation Center Asia, undertaking product development, innovation and application works. Apart from that, she also provides technical services such as nutrition composition, product labelling and food regulations for refineries and other departments under Sime Darby Oils.
Amelia Najwa
Scientist - Oils & Fats Team
Amelia started her journey in Sime Darby Plantation Research and Development in August 2018 under the SL1M program. She was then offered a position as a Scientist in the Oils and Fats department after 9 months in the said program. At the moment she is entrusted to focus primarily on new product development where her area of research emphasizes on finding dairy and animal fat replacers for cheese and vegan food products.

She had also assisted in analyzing the properties in rancid vegetable oils to determine the correlation between oil quality and volatile compounds emitted. The findings were selected by the organizer and presented at PIPOC 2019 in KLCC.

Amelia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder, United States of America. During her university years, she did a research project on using lemongrass essential oil to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by using fruit flies larvae as the model organism. It has been her interest to pursue in R&D field as it will give her opportunities to challenge herself and to explore new discoveries in related areas.
Click Here
Nur Azwani
Analytical - Oils & Fats Team
Nur Azwani has been with Sime Darby Plantation Research since 2009 and currently leading the Analytical - Oils & Fats, Unit. She has a Master Degree in Chemisty and Bachelor Degree in Industrial Chemistry from Universiti Technology Malaysia, Johor. She involved in downstream research projects related to development of fats and oils products and analytical method. Strategic project led by her are medium- and long- chain palm-based triglycerides, high triglycerides palm oil. She has published several scientific journals and patents.
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Research member trying out recipes using palm oil
Researcher examining the result of the baked products
Researchers examining the condition of the palm oil seedlings
Research member arranging the palm oil seedling samples
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