Having faith in further study with NUS FASS

Mr Dean Wang hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of local religions
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By Rachel Tan
Straits Times, Postgraduate Supplement, July 7, 2019

Hagiographies of gods, Buddhist scriptures and Taoist rituals have enthralled Mr Dean Wang since young.

Growing up in a family that practises a mix of Buddhism and Taoism, his interest never wavered but deepened over the years, so much so that he is writing a PhD thesis on the worship of Taoist and Buddhist underworld gods in Singapore. These underworld gods include the Black and White Impermanence Ghosts tasked with escorting souls of the deceased to the underworld.

The thesis is part of his PhD in Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Seeing a lack of research related to Chinese religion in South-east Asia, he hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of local religions.

Since receiving the Enhanced FASS Graduate Scholarship in Chinese Religions in 2015, he has been studying under the supervision of renowned Chinese religion scholar Professor Kenneth Dean, and is the first to conduct an in-depth study of the worship of underworld gods in Singapore.

He also had the opportunity to co-organise the “Second Christian- Taoist Colloquium” with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore last year.

The 31-year-old is now in his final year of studies and will be working with Prof Dean on a new documentation project on local Taoist altars. After graduation, he hopes to embark on overseas postdoctoral research if there are fellowships available. However, he also wants to keep an open mind about his future.

“Any role that allows me to share my knowledge and work on topics related to the local religious scene is good,” he says. “I know that my area of specialisation opens up quite a few opportunities besides the academia.”

He believes that postgraduate courses not only train students to be independent learners, but also help them think critically, speak with precision and act responsibly.

“The emphasis on field work and communicating effectively are soft skills that will never become outdated,” he adds.

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Research Scholarships for PhD candidates – Centre for Family and Population Research (CFPR)

Two Research Scholarships (RSs) are available each academic year for PhD candidates interested in completing research on family and demographic research from AY2018-AY2020. The end-date of the award will be the end of the fourth year of candidature.

Selected students can be based in any of the 17 Departments/Programmes at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore. The Scholarships are targeted specifically for applicants who have basic training and skills in the following areas and will continue to focus on these topics in their PhD programmes:

• Quantitative research on family
• Demography
• Children and youth development
• Aging and Health
• Intergenerational relations and transfers

The scholarships are offered by the Centre for Family and Population Research (CFPR).

You can refer to more information about the PhD programme here. Applicants must be university graduates with at least second class honours (upper division) degree or equivalent and at the time of the award of the Research Scholarship, must have applied for and been assured of admission as a PhD candidate to the Faculty. Application for admission to the PhD programme and the Research Scholarship can be done simultaneously. There is no restriction on the nationality of applicants.

All applications (complete with application form, application fee payment and supporting documents) must be received by the stipulated deadlines as indicated here.

For more information about Research Scholarships, please click here. Applications can be submitted online here.

Candidates should indicate that they are applying for the Research Scholarship, by indicating CFPR at the top right hand corner of the hardcopy application form. Candidates applying online should do likewise after printing out the completed application form for submission. Besides indicating on the hardcopy application form / application form printouts, candidates must also send a scanned copy of their application to CFPR at cfpr@nus.edu.sg .

Esri Young Scholars Award Winner for 2016 – Mr Yan Yingwei

Congratulations to Mr Yan Yingwei, from the Department of Geography who has won the Esri Young Scholars Award 2016 for his PhD work titled: ‘Investigating potential distributional changes of invasive crop pest species associated with global climate change using Geographic Information System’.

Photo_YingweiThis nation-wide competition, run annually by Esri, celebrates excellence in geospatial study, and more specifically, the creative use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – or smart mapping technology – to solve commercial and community issues.

Yingwei’s study aimed to secure sustainable agricultural productions and global food supply in the context of climate change and rapid human population increase. Specifically, the study involves using GIS to analyse the possible consequences of future climate change on the global distributions of invasive crop pest species; and mitigating potential pest invasion risks based on quality-controlled Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) which is a form of crowd sourcing or user-generated content.

His four-year PhD project is supervised by Associate Professor Feng Chen-Chieh, and by his thesis committee members namely, Associate Professor Wang Yi-Chen, and Professor Lu Xixi. The project generated research findings on four fronts:
(1) the overall global distributional patterns of invasive crop pest species;
(2) the spatial patterns of future distributional changes in pest species richness across different latitudes and altitudes;
(3) how temperature and precipitation variations across different regions will affect the distributional changes of the pest species; and
(4) how to utilize artificial intelligence (fuzzy logic) to assure the quality of VGI in order to better surveil crop pest invasions based on spatial crowdsourcing.

These findings may allow agricultural planners, policy and decision-makers to easily identify areas around the globe which need more attention about invasive crop pest control.

Yingwei’s enthusiasm in GIS drove him to pay attention to the Esri Young Scholars Award. As a final year PhD student, he submitted his four year’s research outcomes to Esri to compete for the award. By participating in the competition, he described himself as a young scholar with a quick uptake and an ever burning desire to outperform himself and raise his intellectual levels at every opportunity.

Yingwei will be receiving this award at the 2016 Esri User Conference in San Diego, California, this June and will have his work displayed alongside other Young Scholar winners from around the world.