NUS scientists dominate prestigious national science fellowship awards


10 May 2016


University president and biomedical sciences leader Tan Chorh Chuan lauded; biologist Ding Jeak Ling one of two women scientists conferred for the first time


Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have been conferred five of the seven prestigious fellowships awarded by the Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS) this year. The new SNAS Fellows include NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan as well as four distinguished scientists from the NUS Faculty of Science and NUS School of Computing.


The SNAS, which was established in 1967, comprises many of the country’s top scientists. Its Fellowships are awarded in recognition of outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of science in Singapore. The Academy is widely respected for its key role in promoting the advancement of science and technology, and recognising excellence in science, in Singapore.


The 2016 SNAS Fellowships were presented by Dr Sydney Brenner, the 2002 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine and one of the world’s pioneers in genetics and molecular biology, at a ceremony held at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House today.


Dr Brenner, who was conferred the Honorary Doctor of Letters by NUS in 1995, also received the SNAS Honorary Fellowship at the event. He is renowned for his many contributions to Singapore’s research landscape. They include the establishment of the country’s first scientific research institute, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, which had been initially located at NUS.


Other Honorary Fellows of the SNAS include the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Physics Professor Roy Jay Glauber, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University, and Professor Yau Shing-Tung, the William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University, who was awarded the Fields Medal, the mathematics equivalent of a Nobel Prize, in 1982.


NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan was conferred the SNAS Fellowship for his contributions to clinical science in Singapore, and in leading NUS to further distinction. A renal physician by training, Prof Tan also serves as the Chairman of the Board of the National University Health System, and was previously Dean of the NUS Faculty of Medicine, as well as Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health. He was also a key leader in Singapore’s Biomedical Sciences Initiative.


The four other outstanding scientists from NUS also conferred the SNAS Fellowship in recognition of their research excellence are:


  • Professor Ding Jeak Ling
    Department of Biological Sciences, NUS Faculty of Science


  • Professor Lai Choy Heng
    Department of Physics, NUS Faculty of Science and Deputy Director of Centre for Quantum Technologies at NUS


  • Professor Lee Hian Kee
    Department of Chemistry, NUS Faculty of Science


  • Professor Ooi Beng Chin
    Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science, NUS School of Computing and Director of Interactive & Digital Media Institute at NUS


Said SNAS President Professor Andrew Wee, “Science helps us understand how the world works in specific ways. Scientists play a pivotal role in explaining these mysteries, and in pushing the boundaries of what we know and can do, through research and innovation. NUS has been outstanding in its advancement of, and sustained support for, excellence in science and technology.


The 2016 Singapore National Academy of Science Fellows from NUS - Tan Chorh Chuan, Ding Jeak Ling, Lai Choy Heng, Lee Hian Kee and Ooi Beng Chin - have, through their individual efforts, made deep and impactful contributions to the scientific community in Singapore. They are widely regarded as leaders in their respective fields, and serve as role models for scholarship and research excellence in science.”


NUS President Prof Tan said, “My heartiest congratulations to Dr Sydney Brenner on receiving the Singapore National Academy of Science Honorary Fellowship, and to Nanyang Technological University President Bertil Andersson, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Executive Director Jackie Ying, my NUS colleagues Ding Jeak Ling, Lai Choy Heng, Lee Hian Kee and Ooi Beng Chin on becoming Academy Fellows. This is indeed a strong recognition of the high quality of research and leadership in science in Singapore. I am honoured to be included as a Fellow alongside this distinguished group.”


This is the first time that women in science have been conferred SNAS Fellowships. Prof Ding is one of the two women scientists receiving the inaugural honour this year. Prof Ding’s research interests are in the areas of innate immunity and pathogen surveillance strategies.


Prof Lai is an expert in complex networks and applications as well as quantum information science, while Prof Lee specialises in capillary electrophoresis, liquid chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Prof Ooi actively conducts research in the areas of database system architectures, performance issues, indexing techniques and query processing.


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