BRANDED CONTENT

Stars in the spotlight

Professor Freddy Boey, 62, was part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2014, and the winner of the President’s Science and Technology Medal in 2013. He says: “It is fortuitous that materials science is a sunrise-to-sunrise d
Professor Freddy Boey, 62, was part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2014, and the winner of the President’s Science and Technology Medal in 2013. He says: “It is fortuitous that materials science is a sunrise-to-sunrise discipline that lifts up one industry after another. Materials scientists today should know that the field has no boundaries. We have a role to play to increase the world’s food production, and improve processing and monitoring procedures.”
Professor Wong Tien Yin, 50, is a renowned ophthalmologist, scientist clinician and health administrator. Part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2014 and the winner of the President’s Science Award in 2010, Prof Wong is the D
Professor Wong Tien Yin, 50, is a renowned ophthalmologist, scientist clinician and health administrator. Part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2014 and the winner of the President’s Science Award in 2010, Prof Wong is the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Research & Education) of SingHealth, and Vice-dean of Duke-NUS Medical School. He says: “Perhaps the most satisfying moment of my career is observing how there is an increasing number of younger clinicians who are interested in becoming clinician scientists. Part of my research includes a team effort to study eye image analysis technologies to determine the onset of systemic vascular diseases. We are progressing towards artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse retinal photos for retinopathy and systemic complications in diabetes patients.”
Dr Desmond Rodney Lim, 47, senior director at DSO National Laboratories (DSO) is currently seconded to the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) as director, Advanced Systems. He won the YSA in 2003 and was part of a team that clinched the Pre
Dr Desmond Rodney Lim, 47, senior director at DSO National Laboratories (DSO) is currently seconded to the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) as director, Advanced Systems. He won the YSA in 2003 and was part of a team that clinched the President’s Technology Award in 2016. He says: "There is no substitute for passion, hard work and resilience in overcoming difficulties. I was fortunate to be given many opportunities to explore diverse disciplines, from photonics, communication systems, to sensor systems. I got to work in academia, government service and a start-up. Through the years, I developed a good scientific foundation and acquired a ‘toolkit’ of skill sets which served me well across the different roles I took on."
The Provost’s Chair and Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of National University of Singapore, Professor Liu Bin, 44, won the President’s Technology Award in 2016 and the YSA in 2008. She says: "Winning the President
The Provost’s Chair and Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of National University of Singapore, Professor Liu Bin, 44, won the President’s Technology Award in 2016 and the YSA in 2008. She says: "Winning the President’s Technology Award has sent a clear signal that while doing research and publishing good papers are important, our work should be translated into something useful. As engineers, we solve problems, and we should take a further step beyond fundamental research to turn ideas into innovations. To ladies considering a career in STEM, you are as good as men — sometimes even better!”
Professor Louis Phee, 47, is the Dean, College of Engineering, College Dean’s Office, at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2012 and winner of the YSA in 2006. He sa
Professor Louis Phee, 47, is the Dean, College of Engineering, College Dean’s Office, at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was part of a team that won the President’s Technology Award in 2012 and winner of the YSA in 2006. He says: "When I first saw Luke Skywalker’s dismembered hand replaced by a robotic one in Star Wars, it was pure fantasy — but it got me interested in working with robots. Thirty years later, technology has made robot-assisted surgery possible. In the future, we may see the integration of artificial intelligence and data science with robotics, which may reduce or even eliminate the need for a human surgeon controlling the robot. My greatest reward comes from seeing my robot benefiting patients. Seeing the smiles on their faces is extremely fulfilling, and is something that money cannot buy.”
Professor Ng Huck Hui, 47, is the Executive Director of A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), and the A*STAR Graduate Academy. 
Part of a team that won the President’s Science Award in 2011, he also won the National Science Award in 2007
Professor Ng Huck Hui, 47, is the Executive Director of A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), and the A*STAR Graduate Academy. Part of a team that won the President’s Science Award in 2011, he also won the National Science Award in 2007 and YSA in 2004. He says: "We started in GIS with the ambition to put Singapore on the map in stem cell genomics research. Being one of the pioneers in this field was very exciting, and winning the President’s Science Award was a great encouragement and validation. “Although Singapore is young compared to the more established biomedical hubs in Boston or California, our community has nevertheless made tremendous progress. We aim not so much to catch up with them, but to find a niche for ourselves. Simply replicating what others have done is not enough — we must continue to attract the top talent and push the frontier of science in order to excel and differentiate ourselves in this field.”
The Deputy Executive Director of the Biomedical Research Council, A*STAR, and Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, Professor Patrick Tan, 49, was part of a team that won the President’s Science Award in 2015. He also picked up the Young Scientist
The Deputy Executive Director of the Biomedical Research Council, A*STAR, and Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, Professor Patrick Tan, 49, was part of a team that won the President’s Science Award in 2015. He also picked up the Young Scientist Award in 2001. He says: "Team science allows us to achieve much more due to collaboration. Choosing the right team members and asking the right questions are important.Throughout my career journey as a scientist, my curiosity about certain basic scientific questions and a driving passion for science have kept me going. Thanks to our efforts, Singapore is now a world leader in scientific research. In future, research may generate insights that bridge disciplines in the scientific ecosystem. Different disciplines working together translate to better treatments and diagnostics for patients.”

On its 10th anniversary, past winners of the President’s Science and Technology Awards talk about their inspirations and how Singapore’s investment in research and development has borne fruit

Their life’s work touches us in many unseen ways, from fighting blindness to creating Singapore’s first commercial earth observation satellite.

Each year, outstanding individuals in the fields of science and engineering are feted during the President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA).

Previously known as the National Science and Technology Awards from 1987 to 2008, they were elevated to the status of the President’s awards — the nation’s highest scientific honours — in 2009.

S&T [Science & Technology] has become an integral pillar of our economy as companies move up the value chain to undertake more capital-, tech- and innovation-intensive activities. We have put in place a strong environment for Intellectual Property protection and enforcement, and established a network of public and private sector R&D centres that work together to develop and commercialise new technologies, processes and products. These efforts are underpinned by our long term investment in training skilled science and technology manpower in our schools, universities and research institutes.

- Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Special Advisor, Ministry of Trade and Industry, in his first PSTA speech in 2009

PSTA Chairman Tan Gee Paw says: “Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is the pillar of our intellectual capital. The PSTA, being the pinnacle awards, play a critical role in recognising this.”

A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh says: “The PSTA reflects the meaningful contributions of Singapore’s scientific talents and gives a glimpse of the diverse fields and capabilities across our public research institutes, institutes of higher learning, as well as the hospitals and clinical community. The starting point is always excellent science, and the end goal is to bring benefits to our economy and society. The PSTA winners continue to make an impact on Singapore and beyond, and their ongoing endeavours and achievements add to Singapore’s reputation as a global talent hub and an emerging innovation and enterprise ecosystem.”

From strength to strength

  • PSTA in numbers (2009-2017)

    PSTA given out  34

    PSTM winners  11

    PSA winners  20

    PTA winners  28

    YSA given out 28

Since its inception, a total of 34 awards have been conferred at PSTA on individuals and teams for their outstanding and invaluable contributions to the research and development landscape in Singapore.

PSTA constitute three different categories — the President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM), the President’s Science Award (PSA) and the President’s Technology Award (PTA).

The late Professor Miranda Yap received the first PSTM award in 2009 and remains the only female recipient to date. She was the executive director of A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute as well as the A*STAR Graduate Academy.

Prof Yap was recognised for her distinguished contributions to Singapore’s biomedical sciences landscape.

Her husband Professor Yap Kian Tong, a retired lecturer, remembers her tenacity and influence on the scientific community here: “Many are lulled into assuming that getting scientific funding in Singapore is always easy, and that it provides the motivation for innovative thinking, but it is actually the other way around.


Prof Yap made distinguished contributions to Singapore's biomedical sciences landscape. PHOTO: ST FILE

“Even when faced with no funding or other difficulties, Miranda would persist in research and pursue her passions. She would still push her convictions and the many valuable insights she gained from colleagues from all over the world.”

The 2018 PSTA and Young Scientist Awards (YSA) ceremony will be held next Tuesday. The YSA, which are also presented at the PSTA ceremony, are conferred on young researchers aged 35 and below, who are actively engaged in R&D in Singapore, and have shown great potential to be world-class researchers in their fields of expertise.

Visit https://app.a-star.edu.sg/psta/PSTA10A for more from past PSTA winners.

Additional reporting by Michelle Chin and Joshua Wong

Brought to you by: