Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok

Pelf Nyok Chen

Turtle Researcher & Conservationist. Ph.D. in Zoology. TEDxKL Speaker. Woman in Science. Commonwealth Point of Light for Malaysia. Environmentally and children-friendly, really!
Pelf Nyok Chen


Current Affiliation

2011 – present

2016 – present
Executive Director
Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia

Professional Appointments

2018 – present
Vice President
Society for Conservation Biology—Malaysia Chapter

2018 – present
Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG)
Species Survival Commission (SSC)
International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Academic Qualifications

2018: Ph.D. in Zoology
Thesis title: Nesting, reproductive and hatchling biology and conservation of the Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis). Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Status: Passed Ph.D. defence on 28th Sept 2017. First Ph.D. in the field of non-marine turtles in the country.

2008: Master of Science in Biodiversity and Conservation
Thesis title: Head-starting of river terrapins (Batagur baska): Feeding trials of hatchlings and juveniles. Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

2004: Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology
CGPA: 3.538. Awarded Dean’s List in 4 consecutive semesters
Thesis title: A study on the zooplankton collected by light traps near a coral reef. Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi Malaysia.

Recent Media Appearances

  1. Put turtles up for adoption, don’t kill them, says conservationist. 2019. FMT. Link.
  2. Couple brought together, kept apart by their love for turtles. 2019. NST. Link.
  3. Shelling out for turtle conservation. 2018. AWANI Review. Link.
  4. Mek Tuntung – guardian of terrapins. 2018. The Star. Link.
  5. Fending for freshwater turtles. 2018. DW Women Talk Online. Link.
  6. (Malay) Mek Tuntung terima sijil pengiktirafan Commonwealth. 2018. Utusan Online. Link.
  7. Cover story: Saving the river turtles. 2018. Options The Edge. Link.
  8. Terrapins back in the swim, thanks to Chen. 2018. The Star. Link.
  9. (Malay) Senyuman Mek Tuntung. 2018. Harian Metro. Link.
  10. (Chinese) Guardian of the endangered River Terrapins: Chen Pelf Nyok wins the Commonwealth Point of Light Award. 2018. Sinchew Online. Link.
  11. (Malay) Sumbangan Mek Tuntung diiktiraf Ratu Elizabeth. 2018. Harian Metro. Link.
  12. Earth Matters – Terrer Terrapins. 2018. BFM 89.9. Link to podcast.
  13. (Chinese) River terrapin conservation project drives local economy. 2018. Bernama-Mandarin.
  14. (Chinese) Conservation project that rescues endangered river terrapins. 2018. Nanyang Siang Pau. Link.
  15. Malaysian marine biologist is a poster girl for turtle conservation. 2018. The Star. Link.
  16. Women scientists show young girls anything is possible. 2018. The Star. Link.
  17. Asia’s hunger for sand takes a toll on endangered species. 2018. Science Mag. Link.
  18. Guardians of the River Terrapin. 2017. Malaysia.my. Link.
  19. 13 years on, efforts to save Terengganu turtles continue for Pelf Nyok, Yuan Ying. 2017. New Straits Times. Link.
  20. Kemaman NGO moving mountains to save endangered river terrapins. 2017. New Straits Times. Link.
  21. Saving the terrapins: Voice and determination to survive the odds. 2016. New Straits Times. Link.
  22. Earth Matters – World Turtle Day 2016. 2016. BFM 89.9. Link to podcast.
  23. Villagers aid turtle conservation efforts. 2012. The Edge. Link.
  24. Careers Unusual – Chen Pelf Nyok. 2011. BFM 89.9. Link to podcast.


  1. July 2018. Awarded the Commonwealth Point of Light for Malaysia, given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as recognition to outstanding individuals who have made positive changes in their country from across the 53 Commonwealth nations.
  2. August 2013. Awarded the “Best Student Presenter (Runner Up)” in the 11th Annual Symposium of the Biology and Conservation of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
  3. October 2011. Awarded a CIMB Regional Scholarship by CIMB Foundation to pursue Ph.D. studies in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
  4. February 2008. Awarded a 4-month scholarship for professional training in turtle conservation in USA from the Asian Scholarship Program for in-situ Chelonian Conservation (ASPin-situCC).
  5. December 2007. Awarded the “Best Presenter (Second Runner Up)” in the 12th Biological Sciences Graduate Congress. Universiti Malaya.
  6. 2005. Awarded “Best Oral Presenter” in KUSTEM’s 2nd Post-Graduate Seminar.
  7. 2004. Awarded the “Certificate of Appreciation” from the Rector of KUSTEM, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Mahyuddin Mohd. Dahan for an article published in The Star.