Scientists from NUS were acknowledged at the President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) 2016 ceremony on 18 October for their outstanding research. They received the awards from Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam at a special ceremony held at the Istana.
The highest scientific honours in Singapore, the PSTA lauds individuals and teams for their achievements in science and technology which have resulted in significant scientific, technological or economic benefits for the country. The Awards comprise the President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM), President’s Science Award (PSA), and President’s Technology Award (PTA).
NUS Chemistry Associate Professor Liu Xiaogang was conferred the PSA for his excellent research in developing rare-earth-doped nanocrystals that could be used as luminous tags for tracking cancer cells and deciphering various biologically relevant phenomena. A world-renowned investigator on luminescent nanomaterials, he is also a senior scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
Assoc Prof Liu’s biocompatible nanomaterials mark cancer cells or deep tissues, making the tagged items visible for a longer duration than conventional fluorescent imaging methods. The novel products can be applied to biological assays that are more selective, more sensitive and less expensive. These tunable colour-emitting nanoparticles also have a significant impact in the fields of anticounterfeiting, volumetric 3D display, stem cell differentiation, optogenetics, drug delivery and cancer therapy.
Professor Liu Bin from NUS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, who is also a senior scientist at IMRE, received the PTA for her water-dispersible organic nanomaterials used in biomedical and environmental applications. Being brighter and more accurate than commercial quantum dots, the materials are suitable for long-term tracking of biological processes and vascular imaging. These multifunctional nanoparticle probes can be employed for image-guided therapy, continuous monitoring of drug delivery and other therapeutic functions. She has co-founded the biomedical start-up Luminicell to commercialise the breakthrough technology.
A group comprising NUS Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP), ST Electronics (Satellite Systems), DSO National Laboratories and Nanyang Technological University’s Satellite Research Centre also received the PTA for their joint efforts in developing and launching Singapore’s first commercial earth observation satellite TeLEOS-1. CRISP facilitated the image reception and processing system of the satellite, enabling it to produce high-quality images. TeLEOS-1 has been operating in orbit since 16 December 2015.
Three exceptional young scientists, who are NUS Adjunct Assistant Professors, were presented with the Young Scientist Awards by Mr S Iswaran, Minister, Trade and Industry (Industry) for their innovative research. They are Dr Benjamin Tee, Scientist at IMRE, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NUS Engineering; Dr Lim Xinhong, Principal Investigator at A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School; and Dr Guo Huili, Junior Investigator at A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NUS Science.
Read more on the award recipients.