11 dons now national science fellows (The Straits Times, 25 November 2011)


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11 dons now national science fellows

Singapore National Academy of Science welcomes first batch
By Kezia Toh

They did not receive trophies or prize money last night – only a little suffix to add to their names.

But in obtaining that honour, 11 professors have been recognized as top names in the fields of mathematics and science here.

Last night, they became the first to be anointed fellows of the Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS), an umbrella organization that represents the scientific community here.

SNAS is made up of societies such as the Institute of Physics Singapore, Science Mathematical Society, and Science Teachers Association of Singapore.

The professors received a fellowship certificate and the right to put the letter “FSNAS” (which stands for Fellow, Singapore National Academy of Science) after their name.

The fellowship aims to emulate the Royal Society Fellowship in Britain and those given by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States – two prestigious honours in their respective countries.

The list of 11 includes prominent names who have made many contributions to the study of mathematics and science in Singapore.

Among them are Professor Leo Tan, professor of biological sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS), who was also the former director of the Singapore Science Centre, and of the National Institute of Education.

Also on the list is Prof Lui Pao Chuen, who was one of the pioneer batch of scientists to join the Ministry of Defence in 1966 shortly after the Nation’s founding. He stayed for more than four decades, becoming Singapore’s first chief defence scientist in 1986, and helping to set up the Defence Science and Technology Agency in 2000.

Candidates for the fellowship were screened by a selection committee which looked at their academic publications and curriculum vitae. The names were also reviewed by the Council of the Singapore National Academy of Science.

The process took six months.

Dr Kwek Leong Chuan, principal investigator of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and one of the panellists, said that the fellows were picked partly for the contributions they had made to the local scientific community by promoting education and outreach programmes.

For instance, he said Prof Lui had given workshops to teachers to influence the way they teach physics – and these teachers would then go on to spark an interest in the subject among their students.

Another recipient of the fellowship, NUS physics professor Andrew Wee, said he hopes the fellowship will change the way that research funding is apportioned here.

In other countries, funding is awarded to certain brand-name researchers, who then have the freedom to pursue ideas, even if most do not work. The awarding of SNAS fellowships could be the first step in this direction in Singapore, he said.

List of fellows:

· Prof Louis Chen Hsiao Yun

§ Professor of mathematics, National University of Singapore

§ Director, Institute for Mathematical Sciences

· Prof Chong Chi Tat

§ Professor of mathematics, National University of Singapore

§ Head, Department of Mathematics, National University of Singapore

· Prof Chou Loke Ming

§ Professor of biological sciences, National University of Singapore

· Prof Andy Hor Tzi Sum

§ Professor of chemistry, National University of Singapore

§ Executive director, Institute of Materials Research & Engineering

· Prof Lee Soo Ying

§ Professor of chemistry, Nanyang Technological University

§ Head, Division of Chemistry & Biological Chemistry, Nanyang Technological University

· Prof Lui Pao Chen

§ Senior Adviser to President, Nanyang Technological University

· Prof Tan Eng Chye

§ Professor of mathematics, National University of Singapore

§ Provost and Deputy President (Academic Affairs), National University of Singapore

· Prof Bernard Tan Tiong Gie

§ Professor of physics, National University of Singapore

· Prof Leo Tan Wee Hin

§ Professor of biological sciences, National University of Singapore

§ Director of Special Projects, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

· Prof Shen Zuowei

§ Professor of mathematics, National University of Singapore

· Prof Andrew Wee Thye Shen

§ Professor of physics, National University of Singapore

§ Dean, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

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