Singapore students clinch top awards: Taiwan International Science Fair 2016


The project by three Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) students, mentored by Prof Eric CHAN and Ph.D. student Aneesh KARKHANIS from NUS’ Department of Pharmacy, won top awards at the Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF) held on 24 to 30 January in Taipei, Taiwan. KHOW Yong Zhi represented the group and presented in TISF 2016, clinching not only the top award under the Health and Medicine category and also the prestigious Young Scientist Award, the only Singaporean student to achieve this accolade. The award was presented by the Vice President of Taiwan, Mr WU Den-yih.


Each year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) selects two participants from the junior colleges (JCs) and Integrated Programme (IP) schools to represent Singapore at TISF. This year, one student each from Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and NUS High School were selected.


The TISF is a science research competition for high school students which aims to identify and nurture talented young scientists. It brings together students from over 20 countries to compete for awards. This year, there were 205 submissions and 55 projects were awarded.


The three students, Khow Yong Zhi, TENG Wei Wen and Timothy NG worked in Prof Chan’s laboratory in 2015 to investigate the inhibition of the cardiac CYP2J2 enzyme by anti-arrhythmic medicines like dronedarone. Such an enzymatic inhibition may potentially account for the adverse cardiac effects caused by the medicine in patients with heart rhythm problems.


Prof Eric Chan said, “Wei Wen, Timothy and Yong Zhi are dedicated young scientists who demonstrate great potential in research. The international award serves as a motivation for these boys to scale greater heights in the future.” 


The boys’ mentor, HCI’s Dr Adeline CHIA (Education Consultant/Research) said, “We are glad that Hwa Chong has the opportunity to collaborate with world-class researchers from NUS like Prof Eric Chan and his postgraduate, Mr Karkhanis. This award is testament to the hard work invested by the university, researchers and mentors to nurture future leaders in research to achieve world-leading results, thus doing our nation proud internationally.” The students are part of HCI’s Centre for Talent Development, a one-stop facility that provides an integrated Science & Technology enrichment programme for outstanding Science students.


The students found the experience of participating in the event memorable and rewarding. Yong Zhi said, “Taking part in research is a good opportunity for us to make a real impact, while leaving us with unforgettable experiences. With each experiment done and conclusion made, we lay the bricks for others to build upon.”


His fellow classmates agree. Wei Wen said, “From this journey, I learnt that scientific achievements are the result of precision, focus and hard work. While gruelling, rigorous analysis gives scientific results their believability.”


Timothy added, “Research is more than experimenting to acquire the desired results. It is an amalgamation of life skills, team dynamics and critical thinking. The result and significance of a project is imperative, but I also derived great satisfaction from what I learnt through the process.”  


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The jubilant Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) students with their mentors
Back row (from left): Dr Adeline Chia, (Education Consultant/Research), HCI; Prof Eric Chan, Associate Professor, NUS Department of Pharmacy; and Aneesh Karkhanis, Ph.D. student, NUS Department of Pharmacy
Front row (from left): HCI students Timothy Ng, Khow Yong Zhi and Teng Wei Wen