Seen and heard this week_


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


Prof Lutfey Siddiqi, Adjunct Professor at the NUS Risk Management Institute penned his views on the importance of diversity in company risk and change governance in a commentary published in TODAY on 7 November. He said that in a world of structural uncertainty and industry disruption, companies need systems and processes that can cater to a wider range of possible scenarios as well as a more thorough interrogation of the possible blind-spots in a company’s strategic plan. Thus, diversity needs to be explicitly valued and proactively designed for. Prof Siddiqi further elaborated that the dual role of diversity — unearthing issues that may be lost in homogenous group-think, and the presence of non-experts that slows things down and brings up challenges to consensus amongst insiders — makes it invaluable from the perspective of risk governance.  

In another commentary published in Channel NewsAsia on 8 November, Assistant Professor Clarence Tam at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health debunked the common misconceptions about flu vaccines. He highlighted some prevailing misunderstandings about flu vaccinations — that the vaccination causes flu, that the vaccination is only required when travelling to a cold climate and that flu vaccinations are not effective. Clarifying that the flu vaccination is safe, he explained that any pain, swelling or even fever arising from it are signs that the vaccine is triggering the body’s immune system. He further emphasised that flu viruses circulate in Singapore all year round, so one should get vaccinated regardless of the frequency of travel. Comparing the vaccination to a motorcycle helmet, Asst Prof Tam added that while flu viruses are hard to predict and the effectiveness of new vaccines developed will vary with the evolving virus, people should still take the vaccination to reduce their risk of infection.

A study conducted by Associate Professor Hugh Tan and PhD student Lam Weng Ngai at NUS Science, which uncovered the mutually beneficial relationship between the pitcher plant and the yellow arachnid, a species of crab spider, was featured in The Straits Times on 10 November 2018. After observations of over 170 individual pitcher plants in forested areas of Singapore, the researchers found that the yellow arachnid, which lives only in pitcher plants, absorbs most of the nutrients of insects trapped by the plant and only passes the residual nutrients to it. However, at the same time, the spider’s presence helps the pitcher plant catch more and larger prey. Mr Lam said that the relationship is a model for mutualism and similar to other types of cooperation found in nature, adding that understanding the mechanics of the relationship could help in determining how mutualism is affected by environmental conditions such as scarcity.

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