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Singapore National Science and Technology Awards

Scientists in Singapore unravel the inner workings of cells, invent a new global standard in audio compression, develop high bandwidth broadband communications for multimedia gaming and IPTV, and explore novel ways to produce clean energy - these are some of the winning works of this years National Science and Technology Awards.

A total of three National Science Awards (NSA), two National Technology Awards (NTA) and two Young Scientists Awards (YSA) were presented to 14 recipients comprising three teams and four individuals by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, at the 2007 NSTA Awards Presentation Dinner today. The awards ceremony saw a gathering of more than 500 key players from industry, academia, research institutions and the public sector to honour the achievements of these outstanding scientists and researchers.

The work of this years NSTA recipients have put Singapore on the global scientific map, set international technology standards, and demonstrated that Singapore is a competitive place for industry to develop and launch innovative products for the world market. The vibrant R&D environment is also conducive for investigators and younger scientists to pursue basic science and explore novel ideas. It has also enabled firms, local and international, to attract high quality research talent to Singapore, diversifying the expertise of the talent pool and contributing to the transformation of the economy as we move towards the next phase of growth. The various achievements of the recipients have also put the spotlight on Singapore as a growing research hub.

National Science Award 2007

Three National Science Awards were presented to outstanding scientists whose basic research have led to the discovery of new knowledge.

  • Dr Ng Huck Hui identified the gatekeepers for self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells, and proposed an integrated circuit map of transcription factors controlling gene expression. His work, which is a valuable resource for the global stem cell community, is highly cited. At 36, Dr Ng from the Genome Institute of Singapore and the National University of Singapore is one of the youngest recipients of the National Science Award.

  • Assoc Prof Uttam Surana from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology examined the intricacies of cell division, one of the most fundamental activities of living cells that allow them to multiply. He uncovered novel schemes used to regulate cell division and to maintain chromosome stability in yeast cells. Using his understanding of cell cycle coordination, he designed genetic screens to identify compounds that could prevent division and induce cell death in cancer cells.

  • The team comprising Prof AJ (Jon) Berrick and Assoc Prof Wu Jie from the National University of Singapores Department of Mathematics uncovered deep connections between algebraic topology and the theory of braids. This fundamental work which brought together two branches of mathematics lays the foundation for other researchers to apply the mathematical structures to situations requiring precise control of complex multi-object multi-dimensional movement, as in the case of air traffic control, robotic motion and the folding of proteins to create new drugs.

National Technology Award 2007

The two teams receiving the National Technology Awards this year reflect highly innovative technology development in the private and public research laboratories in Singapore.

  • The team from the Institute for Infocomm Research invented the Advanced Audio Zip, a flexible audio coding tool that is capable of compressing any music file (such as a CD track) to less than half of its original size, as well as restore every bit of the original data during playback without any loss or distortion. At the same time, the coder allows fine-grain bitrate scalability and backward compatibility. This compression technology has been adopted as an international compression standard by the International Standard Organisation (ISO), a significant achievement by a Singapore institute as standards are typically dominated by big industry players such as Sony and Philips. This has also put the spotlight in this field of research on Singapore for the first time. The AAZ team is made up of Dr Susanto Rahardja, Dr Yu Rongshan, Dr Lin Xiao and Mr Huang Haibin.

  • The team of four from Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific successfully developed the worlds first end-to-end VDSL2 (Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line) solution serving up to 8 different service subscribers for switching equipment, as well as the integrated modem for home users. Infineons VDSL2 product codenamed VINAX is the worlds first VDSL2 standard-compliant product. This Singapore innovation is the first VDSL2 product to be commercially deployed by Europe's largest telecoms group, Deutsche Telekom, providing real IPTV, video-on-demand services with HDTV quality. The Infineon team comprises Mr Jain Raj Kumar, Dr Sim Hak Keong, Dr Goh Chee Kiang and Mr Teo Tee Yong.

Young Scientist Award 2007

The YSA recognises young researchers, aged 35 years and below, who have shown great potential to be world-class researchers in their fields of expertise.

  • Dr Yu Fengwei from the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory studied the fruit fly to understand how asymmetric cell division is controlled. His findings may potentially lead to the treatment of some neurological diseases such as Parkinsons disease.

  • Assoc Prof Ng How Yong from the Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, NUS, focused on developing novel membrane processes and enhancing membrane technologies for water treatment and reuse. He also developed microbial fuel cell technology for alternative clean energy production.

  • The National Science and Technology Awards are administered by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). The Young Scientist Award (YSA) is organised by Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS) and supported by A*STAR.

The award selection panels comprised key representatives from the industry, academia, defence and research institutes. The main selection committee was chaired by Mr Peter Ong, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Trade and Industry. Prof Lim Pin, University Professor of NUS and Prof Cham Tao Soon, Chairman, Board of Trustees, SIM University, chaired the selection committees for the National Science Award and the National Technology Award respectively. Prof Leo Tan, President of Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS) was the chair for Young Scientist Award committee.

This years NSTA winners are:

National Science Award (NSA) 2007

  • Dr Ng Huck Hui
    Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR &
    Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

    For his outstanding research in gene regulation in stem cell biology

  • Assoc Professor Uttam Surana
    Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR

    For his outstanding contribution to the understanding of cellular circuits that are crucial in regulating cell division and maintaining genome stability

  • Team comprising:
    Prof A J (Jon) Berrick
    Assoc Prof Wu Jie
    Department of Mathematics, NUS

    For their fundamental work on the deep connections between algebraic topology and the theory of braids

National Technology Award (NTA) 2007

  • Team comprising:
    Dr Susanto Rahardja
    Dr Yu Rongshan
    Dr Lin Xiao
    Mr Huang Haibin
    Institute for Infocomm Research, A*STAR

    "For their outstanding contributions to advancement in digital audio coding technologies, adopted as an international standard for audio compression

  • Team comprising:
    Mr Jain Raj Kumar
    Dr Sim Hak Keong
    Dr Goh Chee Kiang
    Mr Teo Tee Yong
    Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

    For their outstanding contribution to the development of next generation, high performance and robust broadband technology

Young Scientist Award (YSA) 2007

  • Dr Yu Fengwei
    Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory

    For his research on neural development and neurological disorders

  • Assistant Professor Ng How Yong
    Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, NUS

    "For his research on membrane technologies and alternative clean energy using microbial fuel cell"


Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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