scientific - Asian Scientist Magazine

small editorial team that this book cannot be a comprehensive repository of Singapore's scientific history, ...... And if a fire breaks out in an enclosed space, how does the smoke fill the room? Lam Khin Yong, 58, chief of staff and vice-president for research at Nanyang ...... A recipient of the prestigious Stockholm Water.
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SG50 SING A POR E’S SCIENTIFIC PIONEER S

SINGAPORE’S

SCIENTIFIC PIONEERS

BY JULIANA CHAN, GR ACE CHUA, SHUZHEN SIM AND REBECCA TAN

BY JULIANA CHAN, GR ACE CHUA, SHUZHEN SIM AND REBECCA TAN

This book is dedicated to all scientists in Singapore, past, present and, most of all,

aspiring.

Copyright © 2015 Juliana Chan, Grace Chua, Shuzhen Sim and Rebecca Tan. Published by: Asian Scientist Publishing Pte Ltd 5 Toh Tuck Link Singapore 596224 E-mail: [email protected] Website: http://www.asianscientist.com ISBN: 978-981-09-5893-0 (hardcover) ISBN: 978-981-09-5894-7 (paperback) ISBN: 978-981-09-5895-4 (e-book) All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Publisher.

National Library Board, Singapore Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Chan, Juliana, author. Singapore’s scientific pioneers / Juliana Chan, Rebecca Tan, Grace Chua and Shuzhen Sim.– Singapore : Asian Scientist Publishing Pte Ltd, [2015] pages cm ISBN : 978-981-09-5893-0 (hardcover) 978-981-09-5894-7 (paperback) 1. Scientists – Singapore – Biography. 2. Science – Singapore – History. I. Title. II. Tan, Rebecca, author. III. Chua, Grace, author. IV. Sim, Shuzhen, author. Q141 509.225957 -- dc23

OCN910911412

Book design by: Oxygen Studio Designs Pte Ltd Printed by: KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

PREFACE Juliana Chan and Rebecca Tan

ingapore has made much progress in the 50 years since its independence, not least in terms of research output and achievements. Although many people are aware of the importance of research and development for Singapore’s growth, little is known about the individuals who laid the foundations for Singapore’s scientific achievements. These scientists, although lauded by their peers internationally, are not household names in Singapore; their contributions can seem obscure. In celebration of our nation’s 50th anniversary, and supported by grants from the SG50 Celebration Fund and Nanyang Technological University, the editorial team at Asian Scientist has initiated a combined online and print project to celebrate Singapore’s scientific pioneers. In this book, we try to capture the struggles and successes of their extraordinary lives, while articulating their immense contributions to the world of science. Above all, we thank the 25 people who agreed to be interviewed for this book. They are all above 50—born before Singapore gained independence—and have made exceptional contributions to our country’s scientific, engineering, medical and education sectors. Although we approached each interviewee with a similar set of questions, we gave them the freedom to emphasise and elaborate on different aspects of their lives. As such, the reader may notice slight differences in structure and content between profiles. We feel it is important to preserve the voices and inclinations of the scientists, even at the expense of some consistency across profiles. One major challenge was selecting 25 individuals for this book. There are of course many other deserving Singaporean scientists whom we could not feature. We regret that our own limitations prevent us from being able to commemorate here their significant contributions to Singapore. It is clear to our small editorial team that this book cannot be a comprehensive repository of Singapore’s scientific history, and certainly it would be impossible even if we tried. Rather, the stories here are meant to inspire young people to embark on science careers of their own someday. Finally, we thank Grace Chua and Shuzhen Sim, who wrote many of the chapters; Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, who edited all the chapters; Cyril Ng and Bryan van der Beek, who took the beautiful photographs that accompany the profiles; Eunice Ong, who edited the photographs; and our design team from Oxygen Studio