Eminent behavioural scientist to head NUS research

01 March 2015 | General News
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Prof Ho (left) takes over the reins as Deputy President (Research and Technology) from Prof Halliwell

Professor Ho Teck Hua, an award-winning Singaporean behavioural scientist and chaired professor from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), will take over the baton from Professor Barry Halliwell as Deputy President (Research and Technology) (DPRT) from 1 June 2015.

Prof Halliwell, an internationally acclaimed biochemist who is an authority on free radicals in biology and medicine, will become Senior Advisor to the President at the University. He will continue to run his top-ranked research laboratory as well as several existing and new research programmes.

Both professors hold prestigious Tan Chin Tuan Centennial professorships at NUS.

Prof Ho will be Deputy President (Research and Technology) Designate with immediate effect, while concurrently serving as Director of the Global Asia Institute at NUS. He will relinquish his tenured appointment at UC Berkeley when he becomes Deputy President (Research and Technology) at NUS.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said: "Like Barry, Teck Hua is a world-class researcher who sets very high standards for research, and is passionate about how it can improve the lives of Singaporeans and the communities around us. In his capacity as NUS Vice President (Research Strategy) over the past two years, Teck Hua has already made many impressive and important contributions to the quality, impact and application of NUS' research. I am confident that his leadership will help bring NUS' research and its translation to the next level of excellence.

Prof Ho said: "NUS today is widely respected as one of the top research-intensive universities in the world. I am thrilled to have worked with Professor Barry Halliwell as part of his leadership team, and to now have the opportunity to build on what he has done at NUS.

"Excellent research creates knowledge and transforms lives'I hope to work with fellow researchers at NUS to continue producing excellent and high impact research. We are particularly interested in areas that cut across disciplines and which are likely to have a big translational impact in Singapore and the region. I believe my background in engineering, computer science, and behavioural sciences will be helpful in shaping and developing these new peaks, and creating powerful synergies across our existing programmes.

Prof Ho began his academic career at NUS in 1988, and went on to achieve outstanding success in the behavioural, economic and management sciences, winning multiple accolades for his teaching and research. He was recently awarded a grant from Singapore's National Research Foundation under its Returning Singaporean Scientists Scheme for a proposal to solve societal challenges using big data-driven decision sciences.

Prof Ho, the William Halford Jr Family Professor of Marketing, was the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Chair of the Marketing Group at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He has been the Director of the Asia Business Center at the Haas School since 2007 and is a recipient of the prestigious Williamson Award, the School's highest faculty honour.

Prof Ho is also the first Singaporean appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Management Science, one of the world's top journals that publishes scientific research relating to all areas of management.

NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan paid tribute to Prof Halliwell for his transformative leadership since 2006 that established NUS as a top research-intensive university. Prof Halliwell had first joined the University on a visiting appointment in 1998.

An internationally-acclaimed biochemist who remains highly active in research, Prof Halliwell has been identified as one of the top 400 biomedical research scientists globally, and has a Hirsch Index of 141. He is known especially for his seminal work on the role of free radicals and antioxidants in biological systems.

"During his tenure as the founding Deputy President (Research and Technology), Barry established a clear and compelling research strategy for NUS and implemented it with great effectiveness. He also made very important contributions to the recruitment and nurturing of top faculty and researchers, said Prof Tan.

Under Prof Halliwell's leadership, the quanta of competitive research grants secured by the University between 2007 and 2014 more than doubled, and is expected to be over $600 million in FY2014. He was instrumental in NUS' successful bids for three Research Centres of Excellence in Singapore, as well as the new Centre for Advanced 2D Materials.

By working closely with NUS Enterprise, Prof Halliwell has led the way in research collaborations with industry and in sharply raising the translational impact of NUS research. A significant achievement is the founding of the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, which pioneered new models of multidisciplinary research education that helped enhance the quality of NUS graduate education.

The University had also made strategic investments in competitive programmes that include water research, nanoscience and nanotechnology, ageing, humanities and social sciences, lipidomics, drug development, climate science, neurobiology, synthetic biology, bioimaging, antibody technologies and immunology.

Prof Tan looked forward to Prof Halliwell's continued contributions as senior advisor. He said: "Barry will continue to assist me, and the new DPRT, in several ways, including overseeing a number of key research programmes at NUS, notably the ageing and neurobiology research initiative, Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore and, the Marine & Offshore Research – Industry partnership initiative.

Prof Halliwell said: "It has been a distinct privilege to build a world-class research community at NUS. The University has always been known for the rigour of its education; today, NUS is renowned around the world for its excellent research strengths, and its stellar research community. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey'I would like to thank my colleagues and friends at NUS for their unstinting support and hard work.

Read more about Prof Ho in "Singapore scientist leaves Berkeley to join NUS" and Prof Halliwell in "Not all whales swim away".