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.

Dr. Stephen Lim awarded the UBC SoTL Leadership Certificate on Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education

Dr. Stephen Lim is among the select group of NUS faculty members recently nominated and sponsored by the NUS Office of the Provost to undergo the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Leadership Certificate on Curriculum and Pedagogy in Higher Education program by the University of British Columbia. This program prepares academic leaders to develop expertise for scholarly approaches to, and the scholarship of, teaching, learning, and curriculum practices in contextually–bound higher education settings. Dr. Lim is the very first FASS colleague to have successfully completed the program.

We congratulate Dr. Lim on making this significant milestone.

Meet Our Pulitzer Prize Winning Alumna Mei Fong and Her New Book “One Child”


(Interview conducted by Department of English Language & Literature undergraduate, Nigel Choo)

Mei Fong graduated from NUS with a Bachelors of Arts (Hons.) in English Literature in 1997. She began her career as a journalist at The New Paper, then pursued a Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University before joining the Wall Street Journal as a correspondent in 2001. Her work as a correspondent at the Journal won her various accolades including a shared Pulitzer for her stories on China’s transformation ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After leaving the China bureau, she was on faculty at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and is currently a fellow at the thinktank New America. Mei Fong was recently in town in December to promote her new book “One Child,” an account of China’s failed attempt at social engineering and its pervasive effects on the Chinese people.

Q: How did your undergraduate education in NUS influence you as a writer or journalist?

I think the honours year really helped me blossom as a writer by teaching me to read and write critically, and not just on Shakespeare or Joyce but also on popular culture. There was a great class Tim White taught on film critique I enjoyed immensely, and I also remember classes by professors Barnard White, Yong LiLan, Robbie Goh and Susan Ang vividly. Professors Goh and Ang in particular were influential because they encouraged my admittedly middle-brow tastes by lending me books on everything from science-fiction to Umberto Eco’s piece on James Bond. I knew I neither had the ability nor interest to write an epic canto, but their encouragement and examples showed me that it was possible–and indeed, necessary, to write intelligently about anything, even so-called “fluffy” topics.

Q: You have come a long way from being the 16-year old who was inspired by a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II to become a journalist and writer. Has there been a defining moment in your career thus far that you could share with us?

Lots of them! One was getting into a program to encourage creative writing that was sponsored by the Ministry of Education, when I was at Raffles Junior College. The program paired us up with mentors, and my mentor was the neurosurgeon and writer Gopal Baratham, who was a kindly influence. Gopal used to invite us mentees to the Tanglin Club for tea, and was generous about introducing us to the movers and shakers of Singaporean literary society. Imagine being a scrubby teenager and meeting folks like David Marshall and Catherine Lim. All these encounters inspired me, made me think there’s more to life than a 9-9 existence as an office peon.

one child

Q: What inspired the writing of “One Child”?

I’d been reporting on China for several years, and the one-child policy was one of the most interesting and fascinating policies that really shaped Chinese society. At first, as a city dweller, it seemed as if the policy really only affected those in rural areas, who were more subject to its excesses, like forced abortions and sterilizations. Such things didn’t happen to educated women in cities. But over time, I came to realize it really shaped a lot of things for everyday Chinese, things like who you date, the jobs you choose, and how you die. But the key for me came when I was reporting on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, China’s biggest natural disaster in three decades. A lot of the children killed in the earthquake were only children, because the area near the earthquake’s epicenter had actually been a test pilot program for the one-child policy, before they launched it nationwide in 1980. Because of the coming Olympics, Beijing moved in ruthlessly to suppress dissent and parental concerns over the nature of these deaths–many in poorly built, “tofu” schools–and so, the earthquake became not just an illustration of the damaging effects of a natural disaster, but also exposed the great hurts inflicted by that unnatural disaster, the one child policy. While I was in the midst of reporting on all this, including taking a physically taxing journey with migrant workers, I discovered I was pregnant. I subsequently had a miscarriage. That brush with parenthood, and the pain of the loss, was a trigger for me to examine some of the issues raised in the book. Why do we want to have children? What happens when that desire is thwarted by nature or government fiat?

Q: Who should read “One Child” and why?

Anyone who’s interested in China, in the kind of dystopian worlds envisioned by Orwell and Huxley, anyone who’s interested in journalism, anyone contemplating the costs of parenthood, anyone with a uterus.

Q: Finally, do you have any advice for our undergraduates?

My advice is to those contemplating creative careers, in the arts, in writing, in journalism, filmmaking–all the so called “unsafe” jobs that your parents are horrified by. There are a million obstacles, but if you really want to do this, then YOU can’t be the first obstacle, you’ll never get anywhere. To those who want to go into it, I say, Find a Way.

And for those who’ve had some success in these fields, I say, Make a Way.

For a more comprehensive Q&A with Mei Fong, head to where she responds to questions about “One Child” in greater depth.

Towards a Greener Future at FASS

As part of NUS 110th Anniversary celebrations and launch of “Celebrating Trees in NUS” programme, a tree-planting ceremony was held in FASS at the green space located outside of LT13 on 29 December 2015.


Prof Brenda Yeoh, Dean of Faculty and Mr Mark Teng, Director (Administration) at the tree-planting ceremony

Despite the slight drizzle, Professor Brenda Yeoh, Dean of the Faculty, along with other members of the Deanery – Prof Lionel Wee, Assoc Prof Loy Hui Chieh, Assoc Prof Ong Chang Woei and Assoc Prof Melvin Yap, Mr Mark Teng, as well as faculty staff and student leaders came together to plant six umbrella trees. Scientifically known as Terminalia Mantaly ‘Tricolor’, the tree is known for its horizontal tiers which grow upwards to form distinct canopies or layers of leaves that look like inverted umbrellas. They are mostly found in tropical regions and commonly cultivated for the deep shade they provide.

The Umbrella Tree, or scientifically known as Terminalia Mantaly ‘Tricolor’.



Goh Bing Xuan Bryan
Other members of the Deanery as well as student leaders gathered as well to plant the Umbrella Trees.

In total, 110 trees were planted at various locations in campus throughout the month of December. The initiative, spearheaded by the NUS Facilities Management (OFM), aims to further enhance green spaces and deepen the appreciation of the University’s lush natural heritage. A booklet featuring memorable trees on campus has also been produced. A PDF version is available here.


Launch of “Clinical Psychology in Singapore – An Asian Casebook” – An Unprecedented Compilation of Singapore-based Case Studies


Dr Gregor Lange and Dr John Davison, Clinical Psychology lecturers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Psychology, launched a compilation of case studies based on real Singapore clients and families at Brahm Centre, Ren Ci Hospital on 17 September 2015.

The first of its kind resource was authored by numerous members of the Singapore’s psychology community – many of whom were present at the book launch attended by academics, practitioners and members of the general public.

The book contains 20 chapters which provide comprehensive accounts of common mental health problems prevalent in society such as depression, panic disorder, pyromania and exhibitionism just to name a few.

It also sheds light on the challenges and successes of practitioners who had grappled with cultural and ethical issues in the therapy room.

Dr Lange said that the dearth of resources in the local context was the impetus to the conceptualisation of the book. In usual classroom settings, the case studies used commonly were those that took place in the United States or other Western countries.

“The difference in setting – which could range from the usual Hollywood celebrity gone mad profile to the scenario of a cocaine-taking young adult in downtown Los Angeles, was something that students here frequently could not relate to,” he says.

Thus, the book complements the current curriculum in schools and institutions that specialises in abnormal, counselling or clinical psychology courses. It is slated to be the textbook for the “PL3236 Abnormal Psychology” module at NUS and will be a supplementary text for Temasek Polytechnic’s “Abnormal Psychology” module as well.

The Clinical Psychology in Singapore – An Asian Casebook is available for sale at NUS Press Singapore and Kinokuniya Singapore Main Store. It is currently retailing at S$40.00.

To purchase the book, click here. For more details regarding the book launch, click here.

For more information, please visit

Department of Social Work Honours its First Alumni Award Recipients

Three distinguished alumni from the Department of Social Work – Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Dr S Vasoo and Mr Udhia Kumar – were the inaugural recipients of the Ann Wee NUS Social Work Alumni Award.

The Awards were given out on 22 September 2015 at an event held in conjunction with the annual Appreciation Tea for the Department’s Field Educators.

The Award, launched at the Faculty’s 85th Anniversary Dinner celebrations in November 2014, recognises alumni who have made major contributions to the social work education and practice.

It was also affectionately named after Mrs Ann Wee, the longest serving Head of Department of Social Work, who has inspired many with her selfless contributions to the sector. Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head of Department of Social Work, says, “the award is for alumni with a similar spirit to Mrs Wee who ‘serves without seeking rewards, give without seeking recognition’, in their work for more than 20 years.’”

One of the recipients, Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Senior Director at Singapore Children’s Society Family Service Centre (Yishun), dedicates her award to the people she has had the pleasure to work with namely Singapore Children’s Society, other social service practitioners, donors as well as supporters.

On her hopes for the social service sector in Singapore, Ms Wah Khoon acknowledges that social problems and sufferings will always be present in the society.

Despite that, she hopes the “social service sector would keep its ears to the ground so as to stay relevant to the changing needs of our people. That social service practitioners remember that social work is the gift of self, involving person to person transactions in order to bring about desired outcome for our clients.”

Dr S Vasoo, Associate Professorial Fellow at the Department, shares his sentiments about the sector as well. In essence, he feels that there is a need to adopt a more preventive and developmental approach while dealing with client populations as there is a tendency for social workers to take on a remedial approach instead.

“Such an orientation does not help to deal with the prevention of human breakdown,” he says.

He suggests that “It will be cogent for our human service professionals to help individuals and families to be inoculated with good human values, social skills and to be encouraged to acquire relevant industrial skills.”

Additionally, contributions can be more effective when more helping hands are involved in community development and community building.

Lastly, the current social work curriculum should be strengthened to equip trainees with invaluable skills such as the ability to anticipate social issues and problems to ensure a more dynamic social work profession.

“In understanding and analysing these aspects, they can develop a clearer sense of service direction for their organisations and make in-roads into areas where there are potential needs to be met and take proactive steps to tackle them,” he says.

Mr Udhia Kumar, Executive Director at Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Tanjong Pagar, looks forward to more respectful sharing sessions with the Southeast Asian region and beyond.

“We should propagate or come up with our own indigenous models to uplift the community as the social service sector in Singapore is truly a unique one. We can share this knowledge or approaches with other nations who need not necessarily emulate us but adapt the approaches in a way that best benefits them. Likewise, we can also learn from other nations and I look forward to more of such sessions in the future,” he says.

The celebrations concluded with an Appreciation Tea for the field educators. Certificates and acrylic awards were also presented to various field educators and organisations for supervising students at the Department. Click here to see the full list of recipients.

Congratulations to all the winners!

129 (Alumni Award Recipients)
Inaugural Ann Wee NUS Social Work Alumni Award Recipients 2015 (From left to right; Assoc Prof T C Chang, Ms Ang Bee Lian, Ms Florence Neo, Mr Udhia Kumar, Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Dr Vasoo S , Dr Rosaleen Ow, Mrs Ann Wee and Dr Peace Wong)


182 (Field Educators - Individual Recipients)
Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with individual awardees for their dedication in field education


Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with Organisation Representatives
Assoc Prof T C Chang and Dr Rosaleen Ow with organisation representatives for the organisations’ continuous support for field education

Dr. Stephen Lim wins Appreciation Award at NUS Sports Awards 2015

Dr. Stephen Lim, NUS Sports Awards 2015 Awardee
Dr. Stephen Lim, NUS Sports Awards 2015 Awardee

The NUS Sports Awards 2015 Ceremony was held at the University Town on 25 September 2015, graced by NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye.

We congratulate our Assistant Dean, Dr. Stephen Lim, for being one of only two recipients of the 2015 Supportive Staff Award. In addition to meeting and guiding FASS Sports Scholars regularly, Dr. Lim inspires and empowers student athletes beyond his classroom and research lab.

Dr. Lim comments: “In my view, holistic educational experiences are important. My wish is for FASS and NUS students to excel not just academically and in student-led research, but also in such areas as sports, the performing arts, and community work. I particularly wish, on this occasion, that many more deserving students will come to benefit from the NUS Sports Scholarships and Grants. I look forward to continually contributing towards NUS’s educational landscape in as many diverse ways as are within my capacities.”

Congratulations again, Dr. Lim.

CNM offers new online Public Relations Specialisation programme for public through Coursera

Singapore, 14 September 2015 – The National University of Singapore (NUS) will introduce a new online specialisation programme in Public Relations for Digital Media. Designed for those who are keen to pursue a career in public relations in a digitally transforming global landscape, the programme is the University’s latest massive open online course (MOOC) to be offered through Coursera, a leading online leaning education provider.

The programme, which is offered by the Department of Communications and New Media at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is the first online specialisation programme of its kind to be offered globally on Coursera. The programme will be made available online via the Coursera platform from 15 September 2015.

NUS first announced its collaboration with Coursera as a partner university in February 2013. The University currently offers two MOOC courses via Coursera – Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition and Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato.

Professor Mohan Dutta, Head of the NUS Department of Communications and New Media, is leading the new specialisation programme with Assistant Professor Iccha Basnyat and Dr Tracy Loh. With many years of experience in research, innovation in practice, and experimentation in cutting edge theorising of communication processes, especially in a digital media framework, this team of academic experts will emphasise theory-practice linkages through examples and real life problems drawn from across the globe.

Prof Dutta said, “The nature of Public Relations is rapidly changing, with the democratising role of new communication technologies in facilitating participation and engagement. This Specialisation course captures the Department’s core strength in leading the global conversation on drawing the theory-practice bridge. Moreover, the Specialisation depicts our continued innovations with new technologies as frameworks for delivering learning in globally accessible and culturally meaningful forms. Through this Specialisation, we hope to add to our continued contributions to the industry in leading the conversation on the practice of communication for cultivating a sustainable and just future.”

The Public Relations for Digital Media Specialisation programme

The new Public Relations for Digital Media Specialisation programme is specially designed to cater to individuals who have limited access to public relations education and who are keen on becoming public relations practitioners, including undergraduate students and professionals in other fields. It is also targeted at public relation practitioners who would like to delve deeper into theory practice conversations.

The 16-week certification programme will emphasise on the use of digital media in strategic communication activities in organisations. It will cover four courses – Introduction to Public Relations, Public Relations Research, Public Relations Campaigns and Social Media in Public Relations. The courses will be conducted using a staggered approach such that the level of specialisation and difficulty of each level will build on the previous one. The courses may also be taken individually for those who are keen only in specific topics.

Students who pursue the full specialisation programme will be required to complete a Capstone Project, whereby they are expected to apply their theoretical knowledge, undertake research and provide strategic solutions to communication issues in the form of a Public Relations Plan. At the end of the programme, students will be able to analyse public relations problems, understand the role of research in problem solving, develop strategic plans and implement the public relations plans in social and digital media contexts.

NUS will continue to create suitable MOOC offerings through Coursera. On 28 September, the University will be introducing another online course on Coursera titled ‘Superhero Entertainment’, which will examine the social and cultural significance of superhero comic books and films.

For more details regarding the Specialisation programme, visit