To be or not to be … An Entrepreneur – A Panel Discussion

“What should I do when I graduate – Shall I become an entrepreneur? Or is it better to work for a few years and then go down that path?”

 At a time when everyone is talking about entrepreneurship, and new programmes and incentives are being launched to encourage graduates to BYOB (“Be Your Own Boss”), is becoming an entrepreneur the best career choice that one can make? Or is there still any merit in the more traditional path of finding a job and working in a more established company?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, then here’s a session you will not want to miss. USP has invited three illustrious NUS alumni from three different backgrounds for an engaging panel discussion, where they will share their experiences starting and running a business, as well as taking on a job in local start-ups and international companies.

Panel Discussion

Date : Sat, 11 December

Time : 10am-11.30am

Venue: Training Room 3, Yusof Ishak House, NUS

 Registration is required, click HERE. (by Friday, 10 Dec, 12 noon)

(This talk to open to ALL NUS students)


More about the panelists:

Aileen Sim: A graduate of NUS and the NOC programme, Aileen founded her first start-up, First Meta fresh out of NUS and has been digging in the trenches since. Over the last 4 years, she has had to hire and fire, worry about making the next paycheck, quit products and strategies, change the business plan, raise money, and had the satisfaction of acquiring customers and watching the company grow.

Abhishek Mehrotra: Abhishek joined Proctor & Gamble after graduating from NUS in 2007. After a year at the company, he left to pursue a long-held passion – writing. Over the last few years, he has written across a broad variety of subjects in many local and international publications. Currently, Abhishek writes for where he is one of the senior members of the editorial team.

YiXue Chong: Yixue was one of the first employees at an NUS start-up, tenCube. He joined the company after graduating from NUS Engineering in 2007 and has been there through its acquisition by McAfee in August 2010. He has handled various roles as tenCube grew, working with tenCube’s customers, partners and distributors to bring tenCube’s services to a global audience – and continuing this role after the acquisition.

Psychology and Economics Professors awarded $900K Risk-taking Research Grant

For their study on “Biology of Decision Making Under Risk”, FASS researchers Prof Richard P. Ebstein of the Department of Psychology and Prof Chew Soo Hong of the Department of Economics were awarded the first grant offered by the AXA Research Fund in Asia.

GRANT PRESENTATION CEREMONY: (From left) NUS Department of Psychology's Prof Richard Ebstein, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) Prof Barry Halliwell, Head of the AXA Research Fund Mrs Anne-Juliette Hermant, NUS Department of Economics' Prof Chew Soo Hong and CEO of AXA Life Singapore Mr Glenn Williams at the AXA University Asia Pacific Campus on 2 December 2010
GRANT PRESENTATION CEREMONY: (From left) NUS Department of Psychology's Prof Richard Ebstein, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) Prof Barry Halliwell, Head of the AXA Research Fund Mrs Anne-Juliette Hermant, NUS Department of Economics' Prof Chew Soo Hong and CEO of AXA Life Singapore Mr Glenn Williams at the AXA University Asia Pacific Campus on 2 December 2010

The AXA Research Fund, a major and innovative initiative of scientific philanthropy supported by the worldwide insurance group AXA, is awarding 517,000 Euros (S$904, 079) over a period of three years, to NUS for the Study. This marks the first time the Fund has awarded a grant to a university in Asia.

NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) Prof Barry Halliwell said: “We are pleased to receive this esteemed gift from the AXA Research Fund which will support the work of NUS researchers to identify and explain the biological underpinnings of risk-taking in human choice and behaviour. The gift is recognition of NUS as a leading global university centred in Asia, and the University’s relentless drive to contribute to holistic understanding of critical issues for Asia and the rest of the world.”

“We are convinced that basic research is essential for the development of knowledge in this area and thus contributes to building stronger and safer societies. AXA teams in Singapore share with me the pride of this extension of the AXA Research Fund outside of Europe. I believe it is a very strong sign of our long term commitment to the region and its strategic importance for the Group,” said CEO of AXA Japan-Asia-Pacific Region and Member of the AXA Group Executive Committee Mr John R. Dacey.

Over a period of three years, the two researchers will look into identifying the genes and environmental influences that can be linked to an individual’s propensity to take risks. They will use methodologies from behavioural and experimental economics, psychology and the biological sciences. It is hoped that the Study will offer additional insights into the “nature versus nurture” debate about what influences an individual’s attitude towards financial risk.

In addition to support from the AXA Research Fund, a S$1.2million funding from the Singapore Ministry of Education will be used for the study of genetics of social decision making. The AXA Research Fund, which aims to encourage scientific research that would contribute to understanding and preventing environmental, life, and socio-economic risks, has supported 192 research projects implemented in 17 countries by researchers of 39 nationalities.

This article by NUS Office of Corporate Relations was first published in Latest@NUS at

4th CLS International Conference underway

CLaSIC 2010, the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) International Conference, began today bringing together nearly 200 participants from the Asia-Pacific, Middle-East, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Conference Chair Dr Izumi Walker welcomed the many language researchers and practitioners for the three day conference focusing on ‘Individual Characterisitcs and Subjective Variables in Language Learning.’

Participants arriving for the conference

Participants arriving for the conference

The guest of honour was the FASS’ own Dean, Professor Brenda Yeoh who spoke on the ability of language to build bridges and open windows in our increasingly cosmopolitan world.

Dr Walker presents a gift of appreciation to Professor Yeoh
Dr Walker presents a gift of appreciation to Professor Yeoh

The CLS was commended for its commitment to both active research and teaching which together provide a strong academic platform for this 4th biennial conference.

The first of four keynote lectures was delivered by Professor Richard Schmidt of the Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawaii who revisited his original ‘Noticing Hypothesis’ with particular attention given to learner characteristics such as aptitiutde, motivation and language learning history.

The three day conference continues at the Orchard Hotel until Saturday 4th December.

Application for Pre-Med Track

Dear Cohort 2010 Students,


The new “Pre-Med” Track is now open for application. 


This “Pre-Med” Track provides a unique opportunity to better prepare you for admission to graduate medical programs like the DUKE-NUS graduate medical school.  Please see here for some details of the “Pre-Med” track. 


To apply, please complete the application form and email to with the subject heading “PRE-MED Application space<Student’s Name>space<Matric Number>space<Faculty/Dept.>” by 14 December 2010.  Selected candidates will be called for interview in early January 2011.



Office of Undergraduate Programs

Dean’s Office, Faculty of Engineering

National University of Singapore

The Fourth CLS International Conference – CLaSIC 2010


Under the immense influence of globalisation, the world is undergoing substantial transformation in the areas of language and education. Mastery in communication has never been more important than in today’s highly globalised and connected world. Language teachers are therefore faced with important challenges in finding new impulses in educational theory and practice to meet the expectations and needs of language learners from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

CLaSIC, the Centre for Language Studies International Conference, has been a forum for exchanges on the latest developments in current development in foreign language teaching and learning. Classic 2010 brings together around 200 leading researchers and practitioners from over 20 countries, Europe, Australia, Middle East, USA, etc. to explore and share innovative approaches that shape foreign language teaching or pedagogy.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Individual Characteristics and Subjective Variables, because it is evident to educators and researchers that learners take an active role in learning, and individual characteristics, such as age, gender, aptitude, motivation and learning strategies contribute to their learning processes and outcomes. 

Presenters will talk about one of the sub-themes below:

  •   Cognitive Factors in Language Teaching and Learning
  •   Affect in Language Teaching and Learning
  •   Language Learning Anxiety and Fear
  •   Teacher/Learner Beliefs, Attitudes and Assumptions
  •   Subjective Theories and Language Teaching and Learning
  •   Language Learning Motivation and Motivational Strategies
  •   Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy
  •   Metacognition and Language Learning Strategies
  •   Learner Characteristics and Individual Differences
  •   Cultural and Individual Notions of Autonomy
  •   Constructivist Approach to Language Learning
  •   Narrative and Life Story

The Asia Pacific Symposium for the Teaching of Asian Languages (APSTAL) will be also held as part of this conference. The symposium represents a collaborative effort by leading universities in the Asia Pacific region to advance research and practice in the teaching of Asian languages.

Above all, CLaSIC 2010 will provide a platform for stimulating intellectual exchange for language teachers and researchers, and forward foreign language teaching and learning within and beyond Singapore.

One of the prominent keynote speakers for CLaSIC 2010 is Richard Schmidt (University of Hawaii Manoa), who will be giving the opening keynote lecture on “Attention, Awareness, and Individual Differences in Language Learning

More information can be found here.

University Town Writing Programme Courses

Dear Students,

You are invited to apply for a place in the University Town Writing Programme (UTWP) Pilot for Semester 2 of Academic Year 2010/2011.

The Centre for English Language Communication is currently piloting an innovative writing programme for the new University Town’s residential colleges, called the University Town Writing Programme (UTWP). UTWP modules are content specific and taught in a small group environment.  The programme is open to all students from Faculty of Arts & Social Science (FASS), School Of Business (BIZ), School Of Computing (SoC), School Of Design & Environment (SDE), Faculty Of Engineering (FoE), and Faculty Science (FoS).


The following modules are offered in Semester 2, 2010/2011:

Models of Press Freedom (WP2201B)

Mars/Venus?:  Gender & (Mis)Communication (WP2201C)

Writing in a Digital World (WP2201D)

From Human to “Posthuman” (WP2201E)

Globalization and Screen Media (WP2201F)

Language and Migration (WP2201G)

Eating Right(s): The Politics of Food (WP2201H)

Messing with Nature: Unintended Consequences (WP2201I)

Prizes & Popular Culture (WP2201J)


We especially encourage you to apply if you say, “That’s me,” to one or more of the four statements below.

·               I want to make more sense about ideas that make only partial sense to me.

·               I want to work with ideas beyond those in my textbooks.

·               I want other people to pay attention to my ideas.

·               I don’t have to write extended papers for most of my modules, but I still want to be able to write well.


During the current pilot phase of the program, students are refunded all their points except one upon successful completion of the UTWP module. 


Please go to for more information.  Timetables are available at:  Should you have any queries on the UTWP, please contact Ms Cheok Bee Khim at  or 65166955.

University Town Writing Programme

Centre for English Language Communication

The Global Honors College: Waseda Global Seminar on Sustainability 2010

By Vanessa Lim Huimin and Amanda Fay Tan May Wern, Amanda Fay (both Year 4 Geography Majors)

In August 2010, two FASS students (Honours level Geography students) were among four undergraduates who represented NUS at the Waseda Global Seminar on Sustainability 2010. They recount their eye-opening experiences here.


“The future is yet to be determined.” –X CLAMP, Japanese animation series (1996)

For better or for worse, the sustainability debate will rage on. The professors guiding us through the Waseda Global Seminar on Sustainability 2010, which commenced on 2nd August till 21st August 2010, made it clear that the purpose of the seminar was not to paint a hopeful or bleak image of the future. Neither was its purpose to convert us into tree huggers or skeptics. Instead, it was a seminar aimed at opening our eyes to the possibilities that the future holds—with the hope that we will all be able to make informed decisions about sustainability in our lives.

While the seminar was premised on the notion of sustainability with a special focus on biodiversity, we were encouraged to use an interdisciplinary approach to think about the complexities of sustainable development. The Global Seminar on Sustainability was developed by Waseda University in order to form a Global Honors College (GHC), in collaboration with its eight partner universities from around the world: Columbia University, Harvard University, Korea University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NUS, Peking University, University of Washington and Yale University. Participants were purposefully picked from a wide variety of academic disciplines (ranging even from seemingly dichotomized fields such as Biology and Comparative Literature) to reflect on the interdisciplinary nature of the protean word ‘sustainability’. The seminar therefore comprised of an interesting assemblage of students from diverse international and academic backgrounds, making the experience a refreshing one. Although we recognise that a college comprising universities from Asia and the U.S.A. alone does not exactly qualify as “global”, the dynamism of working (and playing) with accomplished students from such a diversity of backgrounds was indeed a valuable exposure to international collaborations.

Lessons and reflections

The seminar was split into two parts. The first was an online phase carried out from 1st June till 30th July 2010, where lessons were conducted using some of the most cutting-edge distance-learning tools such as Mendeley, Wikischolars and VoiceThread. During the online phase, we had to submit reports on a weekly basis, and use the discussion platforms to critically engage with fellow participants on contentious issues. The programme was taught in four parts—Terrestrial Biology, Comparative Literature, Marine Biology and Environmental Economics—by professors from Columbia University, Harvard University, Peking University, and NUS. We were particularly impressed with the technologies used to encourage our participation and engagement with one another, for beforehand, we had not come across these online educational tools. These online platforms were laudably effective in arousing interest, and generating responses.

The second phase was an intensive on-site learning phase, where we attended field trips, lectures and worked on projects to elucidate the intricacies of sustainability, and how biodiversity is compromised in mankind’s quest for development. Field trips were taken within and outside of Tokyo, to explore how sustainability has been achieved in certain contained systems, provoking us to consider about how traditional methods may be useful in promoting sustainability in the modern world. Guest lectures were also a prominent feature of the programme, where professors and government officials from the environmental department delivered lectures on related topics.

For our on-site projects, we were deliberately given tasks that were unrelated to our various disciplines. As such, we were forcefully taken out of our “comfort zones”. However, we found it slightly disappointing that while the GHC emphasised its interdisciplinary approach to the discipline, we did not get the chance to apply our knowledge and skill sets to our projects. While we certainly learnt a lot from other disciplines, we felt that the course was veering into a collection of “1101” classes, rather than an in-depth sharing from each of our fields of expertise to gain further insights on the important considerations of other fields. Perhaps, that is something that can be improved in future years.

Yet, attending the GHC was not without its other privileges – we certainly received first rate treatment from Waseda University. Apart from Waseda University bearing all our programme, accommodation and insurance costs, the GHC also provided us unprecedented opportunities that we were pleasantly surprised with. For instance, the college secured exclusive front-row seats (Photograph 1) for GHC participants when the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, visited Japan and delivered a speech at Waseda University.

Photograph 1. The “Grobal Honors College” (sic) got front row seats to see UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon (on the podium), speak on Peace and Disarmament in Waseda University, August 4, 2010.

We also received the unique opportunity to meet and interact (in a small classroom setting) with Mr. Parag Khanna, an international relations expert who is also current Director of the Washington D.C. based think tank, Global Governance Initiative of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. While sustainability might seem like a far-removed subject from the expertise of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and Mr. Parag Khanna, we were made to think about the implications of global politics in relation to the possibilities of sustainable development.

More than just classes…

While the seminar was the focal point of our trip to Japan, we definitely did not spend all our time there studying and doing research! Part of the objectives of the programme was also to give us cultural exposure. We spent a good deal of time getting to know the fellow participants and exploring the vastly fascinating city of Tokyo. By the end of our three weeks in Tokyo, we were intimately familiar with the boisterously crowded cityscape. It was especially exciting being there in the summer, as it was the season where Japanese wore their traditional summer garbs, the Yukatas (for females) and Jinbeis (males) to attend weekly summer festivals. Our Japanese friends got us well acquainted with the delicious food, festivities, and of course, the commercial culture of Tokyo (Photographs 2 and 3).

Photograph 2. GHC participants in exceptionally high spirits, while shopping in Ginza, the upscale commercial district of Tokyo (despite not being able to afford any of the luxury goods there).







Photograph 3. Vanessa (right) and a GHC friend attending a summer festival in Tokyo, dressed in the traditional Japanese summer wear.









In particular, Amanda grabbed the opportunity of her lifetime to climb Mount Fuji (it was such a challenge that she will probably never do it again) with a handful of students from the GHC. She scaled the mountain over-night to reach the summit just before dawn. The break of dawn was momentous, as they watched an epic sunrise from a view that they will never forget after the daunting challenge of Mount Fuji.

Photograph 4. Amanda, (far right, second row) and a group of GHC participants on the summit of Mount Fuji, shortly after the break of dawn.









And so, after three intense, eye-opening weeks, we returned to Singapore with ‘sustainability’ dawning on our minds. There are many experiences that we label ‘once in a lifetime’ and ‘unforgettable’ and this is definitely one of them. We felt that the period of three weeks was just about enough for us to enrich our minds as we consider seriously the importance of biodiversity and sustainability for the future, and at the same time, gain ample experiences that fuelled our personal growth.

For more information, please go here or here.