Ivan Chang Yen (Date of Birth: 14th Feb 1947)

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Ivan Chang Yen was born in Georgetown, Guyana on February 14th, 1947 to Chinese immigrant parents. He attended the Central High School and then Queen’s College in Georgetown. He completed his Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Chemistry at the University of Guyana in 1971 and subsequently pursued both his Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Bristol between 1973 and 1976. On completion of his studies, he immediately joined UWI, St. Augustine.

Dr Chang Yen initiated the first Analytical Chemistry Programme at that campus, which has since produced over 400 graduates and later inspired the Mona and Cave Hill campuses to introduce equivalent programmes. Because analytical chemistry was a largely unrecognised area of science in Trinidad and Tobago, he ensured that the programme’s curriculum encouraged collaboration with local institutions and industries in order to satisfy national and regional needs, and to identify critical areas to be addressed in teaching and research. Today, many former analytical chemistry graduates currently occupy senior positions in local and extra-regional companies and institutions.

Dr Chang Yen is also credited for his research and environmental assessments on land and marine pollution from oil-based chemicals, heavy metals and agro-chemicals. He has developed novel crude oil fingerprinting systems for environmental and oil exploration applications. The results of his studies on mycotoxins (poisons released by fungi), pesticide residues in foods, lead poisoning and the clean-up of lead-contaminated sites have significantly improved food and environmental safety. He has published extensively in recognised scientific journals and has produced several technical reports on laboratory and environmental assessments.

Dr Chang Yen’s expertise is widely recognised and he has given public service to the Institute of Marine Affairs, a Cabinet appointed committee on lead pollution, the Basel Convention of the UN, the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards, NIHERST and the Environmental Management Authority. He is currently involved in research on cocoa quality to assist the local cocoa industry in meeting international food safety standards, as well as in developing a flavour profiling system for Trinidad and Tobago’s fine flavour cocoa, in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources.