The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) may be known for engineering, but its president, Professor Bertil Andersson, 68, has steered it into two new fields: Environmental sciences and medicine.
In 2013, NTU set up the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in a partnership with Imperial College London; and in 2014, NTU's Asian School of the Environment welcomed its first batch of students.
Research and education in these two areas will help meet local and global needs, said Prof Andersson, who was last night awarded the 2016 President's Science and Technology Medal for setting up the medical school, and transforming NTU into a world-class university.
He said that as medicine becomes more engineering-based - for example with the use of robotic surgery - the new medical school has a good synergy with NTU's core strength in engineering.
Last year, NTU inked a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in the United States - the world's largest museum and research complex - to advance research on tropical ecology.
Prof Andersson said: "Young Singaporeans must understand their living environment in tropical South-east Asia... not many top universities are located in the tropical region. So there is also a global need to build that competence."
He said: "Dr Tony Tan first invited me here (Singapore) to be on the advisory board of the National Research Foundation, and now, 10 years later, I get a medal from him. I think that's a good connection between the past and present."