Outstanding Science Alumni Award 2014

WEE Yeow Chin
BSc (Hons) 1961, MSc 1964, PhD 1976
Former Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

Dr Wee Yeow Chin was thrust into the role of green advocate through his involvement with the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) as Secretary and Chairman, and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President during 1978 to 1995.

This was a period when people were more concerned with putting food on the table than going around enjoying nature. In his zeal to popularise nature, Dr Wee gave talks freely and led nature rambles frequently. Popular writings on nature were non-existent and Dr Wee filled the gap with his numerous articles and books on the local flora and fauna. In the 1980s, he campaigned against the misguided clearing of ferns and orchids from branches of wayside trees. This ended when park authorities began reattaching pigeon orchids and staghorn ferns back to trees in the early 1990s. Dr Wee also led a successful campaign persuading government not to clear a patch of biodiversity rich forest at Lower Peirce for a golf course.

In 1991, Dr Wee received the Green Leaf Award on behalf of the Nature Society for the latter’s role in the establishment of what is now known as the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the drawing up of the Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature in Singapore.

Dr Wee served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in 2012.

Since 2005, Dr Wee has been running the Bird Ecology Study Group’s website (http://www.besgroup.org) that encourages nature enthusiasts to document and post items of bird behaviour that most birdwatchers ignore. With more than 3,200 items, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers.

Dr Wee joined NUS as a Lecturer in 1977 and spent 20 years in the Faculty of Science before retiring in 1997 as an Associate Professor.

“Nature conservation needs to coexist with development – you cannot have one without the other.”

In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions, we honour Dr Wee Yeow Chin with the 2014 Outstanding Science Alumnus Award.