Striving for excellence and innovation

The annual University Awards recognises excellence in education, research and service

NUS celebrated the accomplishments of eight outstanding educators, researchers and professionals at the NUS University Awards 2019 on 28 May. The annual event, which was held at the University Cultural Centre, recognises individuals for their remarkable contributions in the areas of education, research and service to the University, to Singapore and the global community.

The prestigious Outstanding Service Award was conferred on former NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Executive Director of the Office for Healthcare Transformation and Chief Health Scientist at the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Prof Tan served as NUS President from 2008 to 2017, during which time the University’s reputation as a leading global university with an Asian perspective soared. NUS made remarkable progress in the areas of education, research and entrepreneurship under Prof Tan’s stewardship, from adopting new models of teaching and learning such as University Town and Yale-NUS College, to accelerating the pace of multidisciplinary research and entrepreneurship initiatives.

An alumnus of NUS and a renal physician by profession, Prof Tan’s early career saw him appointed the youngest Dean of the then NUS Faculty of Medicine, serving as the Director of Medical Services at MOH during the 2013 SARS epidemic, and heading the National University Health System as its inaugural Chief Executive, where he consolidated the NUS schools of medicine, dentistry and public health as well as the National University Hospital under a single governance. In 2018, Prof Tan was appointed University Professor, NUS’ highest academic appointment. 

Expressing his gratitude for the award, Prof Tan said, “What I find most fulfilling is that NUS has developed a talented community and environment which encourages and enables individuals to excel and create real impact.”

We will continue to stay grounded in excellence and to pursue innovation. Together, we will chart our own unique course and we will innovate our future. I am glad we are all part of this exciting journey.

Fellow awardee Ms Yong has impacted both NUS and Singapore significantly. An economist by training, she is known for her boldness and her willingness to try new things. Placing great value in the collaboration between government, industry and universities, she has spent much of her distinguished career leading and supporting such initiatives.

Under Ms Yong’s leadership at the National Research Foundation, the CorpLab@University programme was set up to support the establishment of joint research and development laboratories between industry and local universities. NUS’ Corporate Laboratories with Keppel, Wilmar and Singtel in diverse areas from deep water technology, food-tech and sustainable biotechnology, and cybersecurity have benefited from her foresight. Ms Yong also played an instrumental role in the creation of AI Singapore (AI.SG) in 2017. Hosted at and led by NUS, AI.SG is transforming the country’s AI capabilities through the creation of opportunities for research, innovation and talent development with schools, universities, research institutions and industry.

“NUS is an immensely important institution that encourages exploration of new ideas, and creates new solutions to improve people’s lives. I am grateful for the many opportunities that NUS has given me to meet some of the best minds in the world, where the stimulating discussions have so often sparked off fresh insights,” said Ms Yong.


The eight award winners (from left:) Assoc Prof Yan, Assoc Prof Hui, Assoc Prof Nga, Prof Tan, Ms Yong, Prof Wenk, Asst Prof Tan and Assoc Prof Tan

Six exemplary educators and researchers were also honoured for their accomplishments. Associate Professor Nga Min En from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Assistant Professor Hans Tan from the NUS Design & Environment’s Division of Industrial Design received the Outstanding Educator Award in recognition of their innovative teaching methods and dedication to helping students improve their creative capacity, respectively.

Professor Markus R Wenk from NUS Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry was presented with the University Research Recognition Award for his work in establishing and developing the Singapore Lipidomics Incubator and his contribution to lipids research.

The Young Researcher Award was given to Associate Professor Andrew Hui from Yale-NUS’s Division of Humanities for his work in cultural philology, Dean’s Chair Associate Professor Vincent Tan from NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering and NUS Mathematics for his studies into information theory, and Associate Professor Yan Ning from NUS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering who researches catalytic transformation in renewable resources.

Calling excellence a core value at the University, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye commended the winners for achieving peaks of excellence in their pursuits. “We will continue to stay grounded in excellence and to pursue innovation. Together, we will chart our own unique course and we will innovate our future. I am glad we are all part of this exciting journey,” he said.

See press release.

See speech by NUS President, Prof Tan Eng Chye.


NUS President Prof Tan interacting with guests at the event