Scientist wins 2015 L’Oréal FWIS Fellowship

09 Jan 2016 NUS scientist wins the 2015 L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science (FWIS) National Fellowship for her work in the conservation of giant clams.

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The Life Science Fellowship last year was awarded to Dr NEO Mei Lin, Ph.D. alumnus from the Department of Biological Sciences in NUS, currently a Research Fellow at the Tropical Marine Science Institute in NUS. She won the fellowship for her research in “Prioritising conservation for giant clams – An integrative assessment based on threat, phylogenetic and functional diversity”.

Giant clams are the world’s largest living bivalves. They are also key ecosystem engineers that play multiple roles in coral reefs. However, one of the main challenges in the field is that giant clams are running out of time, and current restocking efforts are limited to a few countries. Dr Neo intends to leverage on current conservation assessment frameworks (EDGE: Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) to develop robust outcomes for identifying unique giant clam species lineages.

There are not many marine organisms that can match up to the giant clam’s many ecological contributions in the coral reefs, and Dr Neo’s study can help allocate conservation resources that are urgently needed to safeguard the future of giant clams.

Apart from her own research, Dr Neo currently is working on multiple collaborative projects using giant clams as model organisms in the fields of palaeontology, material sciences and climate sciences. She hopes to leverage on her expertise and synergise with scientists, conservation managers and stakeholders to work towards the common goal of conserving the charismatic giant clams.

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The fluted giant clam, Tridacna squamosa – a native species found in Singapore. [Image credit: Neo Mei Lin]