Workshop and Seminar by Dr Giuliano Maselli Locosselli

This March, the FASS Environment Research Cluster was pleased to welcome Dr Giuliano Locosselli from the Institute of Biosciences, University of Sao Paulo.

Dr Locosselli studies the impact of environmental change on the development of trees growing in the natural environment. Most of this research use tree rings as a means to evaluate the development of trees in high temporal resolution. Recently, Dr Locosselli began applying tree ring analysis to the complex urban environment. It uses both tree rings and tree bark as biomonitoring tools to reconstruct the spatial/temporal variation in environmental pollution in cities and its effects on citizens’ health. He has applied these approaches in São Paulo, Brazil, and in Lyon, France.

During his short stay in Singapore, Dr Locosselli collected tree ring samples around the NUS Kent Ridge Campus. The samples will be sent for further laboratory analysis to extract data on the pollutants found in the trees here. This preliminary study will help to determine the suitability of trees and tree species in Singapore as biomonitoring indicators. If successful, Singapore may be able to use trees to complement existing studies on lake sediment cores in environmental research.

Dr Locosselli also conducted a workshop titled ‘Principles of Biomonitoring Studies in Cities’, and a seminar titled ‘Trees as Archives of Environmental Quality’ for the Environment Research Cluster. Their abstracts can be found below.



Workshop Abstract:

Biomonitoring studies allow one to estimate the levels of environmental pollutants when instrumental data are limited or unavailable. The approach is based on organisms that are actively introduced to the study site or on organisms that are already found in such sites. The latter passive biomonitors include urban trees. Urban trees are key biomonitoring tools that provide information about the spatial and temporal variability of environmental pollutants, including Pb, Al, Zn, Ni, and other metals. The chemical composition of tree bark and tree rings can be analyzed using different methods. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is one of the methods used for the analysis of the chemical composition of tree bark. Laser ablation coupled with the ICP-MS is a method well-suited for tree-ring studies.

In this class, we will go through key principles behind both analyses, including sample preparation, measurement and analysis. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches.


Seminar Abstract:

Air pollution is a growing concern in cities worldwide, causing 4.2 million premature deaths each year. The risk associated with air pollutants, however, is not always clear because long records of air pollution are missing for most cities, and many classes of contaminants such as airborne metals are not routinely monitored. Where present, data from air quality stations may not reflect the full extent of spatial variation in pollution, due to the intrinsic complexity of the urban landscape. Biomonitoring studies can help fill gaps in instrumental data to provide long-run archives of environmental quality with high spatial resolution. Trees are key passive biomonitoring tools found in cities around the world. Dendrochemical analysis of urban trees can reconstruct the temporal variation in environmental pollution. The chemical composition of the tree rings can inform how pollution varied through time, as well as within and across cities. The approach uses recent laser ablation technology coupled with mass spectrometry, assessing the chemical composition of wood at the cellular level and increasing the approach’s precision and reliability. Dendrochemical studies are combined with the analysis of the chemical composition of tree bark in order to evaluate the spatial variability of pollutants. Different chemical elements found in ambient air are passively adsorbed to the porous surface of tree bark. Air quality can be monitored using both approaches, helping policymakers improve public health and well-being in cities.

Buaya: Measuring the scales of an ancient predator

Hope the new year has been a good start for everyone!

The Environment Cluster will be hosting our first seminar of the year titled “Buaya: Measuring the scales of an ancient predator” by Ms Kate Pocklington, the Conservator of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore. It will be held on 2 February 2018, 2 – 3.30pm at the Research Division Seminar Room, Shaw Foundation Building, AS7 #06-42. Tea will be provided after her talk.

To register, please click on this link:

For more information, you may refer to our flyer below.

Hope to see you!

The Role of Indigenous Rights in Rainforest Preservation, Two Perspectives by Mr Joe Lamb & Dr Jose Fragoso

The Environment Cluster will be hosting our next seminar titled “The Role of Indigenous Rights in Rainforest Preservation, Two Perspectives” by Mr Joe Lamb (Founder of the Borneo Project) and Dr Jose Fragoso (Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences, USA and Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA)). It will be held on 6 November 2017, 4 – 5.30pm at the Research Division Seminar Room, Shaw Foundation Building, AS7 #06-42. The presentation will also include an 11-minute film “Development Without Destruction”, followed by a discussion thereafter.

For more information, please see our flyer below. This event is co-organised by the Environment Cluster, the Department of Communications and New Media and the CARE Project.

To register, please click here.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you!

Join us for our Environment Cluster Meeting! (For Faculty Members & Grad Students Only)

The Environment Cluster of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences would like to invite all interested NUS faculty members and graduate students to attend our first Open Cluster Meeting on 4th October (Wednesday), 4 – 5.30pm at the Research Division Meeting Room (AS7 #06-43), Shaw Foundation Building, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore.

The agenda will be to discuss:

  1. Recruitment of new members
  2. Summary of past events
  3. Suggestions for new events
  4. Announcements

Please note, however, that this meeting is open to NUS faculty members and graduate students only.

If you are interested to attend, please register here.

Hope to see you!

Macrosystem Controls of Carbon Storage in Mangroves: Using Coastal Environmental Settings as a Model for Global Estimates by Professor Robert Twilley

Welcome back to a new semester!

Join us for our first seminar of the semester this coming Friday titled “Macrosystem Controls of Carbon Storage in Mangroves: Using Coastal Environmental Settings as a Model for Global Estimates” by Professor Robert Twilley, Executive Director, Louisiana Sea Grant College Programme, Louisiana State University. It will be held on 18 August 2017, 3.30 – 5.00pm at the Earth Lab, Department of Geography, AS2-02-03, NUS Kent Ridge Campus. For more information, please see our flyer below.

Kindly register here to attend.

Thank you.


In collaboration with the Asia Research Institute (ARI), the Environment Cluster will be hosting a film screening event titled, “The Age of Consequences”, directed and produced by Jared P. Scott. Prof. David Taylor, from the Department of Geography, will be heading this event.



‘The Hurt Locker’ meets ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES investigates the impacts of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability.

Through unflinching case-study analysis, distinguished admirals, generals and military veterans take us beyond the headlines of the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, and the European refugee crisis – and lay bare how climate change stressors interact with societal tensions, sparking conflict.

Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise function as ‘accelerants of instability’ and ‘catalysts for conflict’ in volatile regions of the world.

These Pentagon insiders make the compelling case that if we go on with business as usual, the consequences of climate change – waves of refugees, failed states, terrorism – will continue to grow in scale and frequency, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century.

The film’s unnerving assessment is by no means reason for fatalism – but instead a call to action to rethink how we use and produce energy.

As in any military defense and security strategy, time is our most precious resource.

Details of Film Screening Session

Date: 14 February 2017

Time: 4.00 – 6.00pm

Venue:  Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260, National University of Singapore @ KRC

To find out more, click here:

Interested? Register here!

You won’t want to miss this! See you there!