Asian Scientist Writing Prize honours 26 winners

Ms Tara Thean, 26, receiving first prize of the Asian Scientist Writing Prize 2017 at Science Centre Singapore from Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung on July 7.
Ms Tara Thean, 26, receiving first prize of the Asian Scientist Writing Prize 2017 at Science Centre Singapore from Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung on July 7.PHOTO: ASIAN SCIENTIST MAGAZINE

SINGAPORE - Noise pollution in the ocean may not seem an immediately appealing or worrying subject.

But the sounds created by humans can impact marine life in a negative way, said environmental policy researcher Tara Thean.

Raising this issue in an essay called Blue Noise has won her $5,000 and a free trip to Bintan.

The research associate at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was one of 26 winners of the Asian Scientist Writing Prize 2017, announced on Friday (July 7) at Science Centre Singapore.

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The prizes, which included cash and book vouchers, were worth more than $16,000 in total.

The second prize went to The Red Tides Of Death, an essay on harmful algal blooms that hit Asian waters in recent years. It was written by Dr Daphne Ng, 31, a research fellow at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University.

An essay about the lives of ants that live beneath the ground - called Illuminating The Deep, Dark World Of Subterranean Ants - garnered the third prize. It was written by Mr Mark Wong, 26, a manager at National Parks Board.

Ms Thean, 26, said the conversation on noise pollution in the ocean tended to take place in other parts of the world but not in South-east Asia. So she chose to write about this region.

Ms Thean, who has a deep bond with the oceans, plans to save her prize money for her retirement.

The biennial competition, being held for the second time, celebrates science writing relevant to Asia, and drew 227 entries from 16 countries and territories this time.

World Scientific Publishing sponsored it, while Asian Scientist Magazine and Science Centre Singapore co-organised it.

"We were very impressed with the quality of the entries this year," said Asian Scientist Magazine editor-in-chief Juliana Chan.

Assistant Professor Chan, who also chaired the judging panel, added: "Not only were the essays engaging and informative, but they also made the technical subject matter accessible to the layman."

Science Centre Singapore chief executive Lim Tit Meng said: "Science and technology are important components of nation building, and they have to be communicated effectively to everyone... This creative science writing competition helps to inculcate a stronger sense of curiosity."

Dr Jorge Cham, the creator of the comic strip Piled Higher And Deeper - otherwise known as PHD Comics - gave a speech, as a guest of honour, on how scientists can communicate better with the public.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung, was the other guest of honour and gave out the prizes.