Seven exceptional individuals were honoured for their transformative contributions to education, research and service at the NUS University Awards 2018 held on 14 May.
Professor Chong Chi Tat, University Professor with the Department of Mathematics in NUS Science and Director of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NUS, and Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), were conferred the Outstanding Service Award. The prestigious award honours individuals who have contributed immensely to the University and society.
Prof Chong is a renowned mathematician and a highly committed educator who has made many valuable contributions to the University in his 44 years with NUS. Prof Chong is recognised internationally for his research excellence in the field of mathematical logic. Notably, he published two landmark papers which solved two prominent problems in the reverse mathematics of Ramsey theory that were unanswered for 20 years.
Beyond research, Prof Chong is deeply invested in Singapore’s education. He led the restructuring of the University curriculum when NUS was undergoing a major transformation in education and research, and played a pivotal role in the implementation of a system which adopts the best practices in the appointment, promotion and tenure of academic staff. Prof Chong also held positions in various committees beyond NUS, including chairing two committees in the Ministry of Education which led to the establishment of NUS High School for Mathematics and Sciences and the renewal of the GCE A-Level curriculum. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2002.
Prof Chong attributed his Outstanding Service Award to the ones who have worked alongside him. “It is a great honour to receive this award. I have been privileged with the opportunity to work with many outstanding colleagues dedicated to the advancement of the University. I am hopeful that the joint effort of talented individuals will bring NUS to the next level,” he said.
Fellow Outstanding Service Award recipient Mr Lim is a strong advocate for collaboration and a key figure who has shaped Singapore’s research and innovation landscape. During his distinguished career in the public sector, the former Permanent Secretary (Education) oversaw the transformation of publicly funded universities into Autonomous Universities as a push to drive new peaks of excellence, and helped to create the Academic Research Council and Academic Research Funding Framework which catalysed the evolution of universities into research-intensive institutes.
He was instrumental to the establishment of Duke-NUS Medical School as well as multiple joint initiatives and research partnerships between A*STAR and NUS, including the Clinical Imaging Research Centre, Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology, and Translational Laboratory in Genetic Medicine.
Mr Lim has also made outstanding contributions to peacekeeping and defence diplomacy as former Chief of Army and Chief of Defence Force in the Singapore Armed Forces, for which he received the Public Administration Medal (Gold) (Military).
Mr Lim said his greatest satisfaction was seeing NUS flourish as a result of university autonomy. “This award is as much about the success of NUS as it is a recognition of the contribution of everyone who worked to transform NUS into an Autonomous University,” he added.
Three other awards were presented at the event — the Outstanding Educator Award, the University Research Recognition Award and the Young Researcher Award.
NUS Dentistry Associate Professor Kelvin Foong and Dr Soo Yuen Jien from NUS Computing received the Outstanding Educator Award for their efforts to transform learning through new technologies and collaborative ground-up approaches.
The University Research Recognition Award was presented to Professor Toh Kim Chuan from NUS Mathematics, NUS Business and the NUS Institute of Operations Research and Analytics for his pioneering work in semidefinite programming, and Professor Henry Yeung from NUS Geography for his extraordinary scholarship in the field of economic geography.
Rising material scientist Assistant Professor Zhao Dan from NUS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering received the Young Researcher Award for his promising work in advanced porous materials, membranes and environmental sustainability.
Applauding the award recipients, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Our University Awards recipients exemplify the NUS values. They have pursued their passions at NUS with an indefatigable spirit, bold imagination for betterment, and an assiduous quest for excellence. Their achievements give us a peek into the boundless possibilities of what we can each reach for at NUS, if only we dare.”
See press release.