Antonia Monteiro weighs in on the colour blue on NPR

Free of teaching (it’s Reading Week), David Bickford was surfing the net, perusing NPR and happy to see colleague Antonia Monteiro quoted in a piece about blue color in animals [“How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue,” by Rae Ellen Bichel. NPR, 12 Nov 2014].

NewImage

“Everywhere you look, organisms have been inventing different solutions to creating the same color,” says Antonia Monteiro, who studies butterfly wings in Singapore.

Monteiro says a lot of animals use different materials to get the same effect. Butterfly wings are sheathed in reflective scales made of chitin, the same stuff that makes a crab’s shell hard. And a 2012 study found that some birds use bubble-laced keratin (the same stuff that human fingernails are made of) in the barbs of their feathers; it scatters the light from the feather in a way that happens to look blue to humans.

All that blue not pigmented! Head over to the NPR page.

How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue  Shots  Health News  NPR

Thanks for the alert, David!

From August 2014 on NPR, see also “Butterfly Shifts From Shabby To Chic With A Tweak Of The Scales“.

“The behaviour of giant clams” – Pamela Soo & Peter Todd, 2014

20141120 Pamela Soo

Pamela who has not strayed far from marine life, says, “yay, clams! five years later, and most of the searching and editing on his part, my prof [Peter Todd] has finally found a home for my chunky, lengthy stackofa thesis! all the final year moments of madness distilled into nineteen pages of a scientific journal.”

If you’re keen to peek into the madness, see the paper at Springer.com” (full download).

Congratulations and thanks Pam and Pete! I’ll be using it in the LSM1103 Biodiversity mollusca lecture myself!

Pamela Soo

Photo by Creative Kids.

Tue 11 Nov 2014: 6.30pm @ Brookhaven – Book Launch of “Dynamic Environments of Singapore” by Dan Friess & Grahame Oliver (NUS Geography)

From Dan Friess in Geography,

On the 11th of November Grahame Oliver and I are having a book launch for our new textbook “Dynamic Environments of Singapore”, which was published earlier this year. I’d like to invite you to attend – there will be copies available for purchase ($30 – bargain!).

Please find the details on the FASS Environment Cluster blog.

20141111 DanFriess book launch

An event co-organized by the FASS Environment Cluster and the Singapore Research Nexus.

Prof Chou Loke Ming officially retires today!

20141031 CLMProf Chou Loke Ming officially retires today – the end of an era which his Reef Ecology Study Team and many students in the department will continue to reminisce about for decades.

I thought I’d share his commencement speech delivered to the graduating class on 10th July 2014. I loved his “coconut speech” delivered with his quintessential humour, dignity and an understated deep feeling.

Thanks for the memories Prof!

Prof Chou Loke Ming heads to TMSI next (See “Marine conservation veteran continuing passion after retirement,” by Audrey Tan. The Straits Time, 15 Oct 2014 [link])

“Member, NUS Board of Trustees, Mr Philip Tan,
Distinguished Guests,
Graduates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

This is certainly a cheerful occasion for the graduates. It marks a significant achievement on your part and I congratulate you on reaching this stage in the journey of your life.

You have heard time and again the saying that “to be successful, you should dream”. If you believe that you will succeed by dreaming, then I’m afraid you will be deeply disappointed. Dreaming is good, and you should dream, but the dream will never be realised without committed effort on your part. And I’m sure that you recognise this by now.

Today, you are receiving your degree and this did not come about just by you dreaming that you will one. You had to put in tremendous energy – for some of you, it was more a nightmare in realising this dream. It was blood, sweat and tears trying to meet with assignment deadlines and constant examinations that keep your adrenaline level high, which is beneficial as that keeps you looking young. Tonight, not one of you has a wrinkle on your face. Just wait a few months without examinations and those lines will start appearing. Adrenaline also strengthens your heart muscles – so now you know the full worth of your tuition fees.

There are two quotations that I want to share with you. They are by two highly successful persons and both are featured in the connecting link between the two wings of University Hall. These quotations are extremely relevant as you journey on.

The first is by Tan Sri Dr. Lee Kong Chian. He said, “Education is the basic element in the survival and prosperity of the state. And the promotion of education should be the responsibility of every citizen. It is man’s best inheritance”.

You are now blessed with an education that fortifies you well for the next stage of your life journey, where you continue to learn and make a positive contribution to society. Always remember that you are not just receiving a degree that gives you a solid head-start but that you are graduating from the National University of Singapore, which is reputed to be among the world’s best. No, this is not a paid commercial in case you are wondering – it is established fact. This means that you stand equal to many of your best peers on the global stage.

Commencing on the next stage of your journey, you need to stay focused but remain relevant. We live in a world that is governed by rapid change. This means that as you aspire, you need to accept change and adapt to it.

Aspiration is good as it keeps you focused. Let’s say your ultimate dream is to be so successful that you can eventually sit under a coconut tree and relax.

As you maintain that focus and work towards it, do be patient. Some of you will get to sit under a coconut tree soon, but others will take a longer time. A few of you will make your first million dollars in a couple of years, but for most, that will take a few decades. However, do be patient. Whatever you do, do it with dignity. This is where the second quotation has relevance. It is by Tan Sri Dr Tan Chin Tuan and he said “I prefer having a good reputation to having all the wealth in the world”. And indeed, your success will be measured most by your integrity and humility.

You also have to adapt to change – we live in a world that is, in the words of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman, ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’. The rate of change keeps accelerating. Technology advances swiftly, the environment is no longer the same, information is at your fingertips and you need to discern the reliability of the information source and interact with more people everywhere, all the time. If you don’t prepare for these changes, you will have difficulty in attaining your dream.

Looking for the coconut tree, it may no longer be in Changi or Sentosa where you expect it to be – you now have to be prepared to settle down in Sapporo or Jeju as coconut trees have shifted there because of global warming. If you don’t prepare for change, you lose.

Then when you finally get to sit under that coconut tree wherever it is in the world, you quickly realise that coconuts do obey Newton’s Law of Gravity. You have to be adequately prepared. Even when you have a crash helmet with google glass incorporated, and by that time google mouth (which lets you sing much better than anyone else) and google ear (which translates what the insects are saying about you), the helmet may just split if that coconut tree turns out to be genetically modified with coconuts that are extra-large and heavy.

If you are not totally prepared, you won’t be enjoying your dream for long.

But do not be discouraged by the elusive coconut tree. As Biological Sciences graduates of the National University of Singapore, you have an education that will help to prime you fully as you navigate through all the uncertainties towards your aspiration.

Best wishes to you and once again, congratulations!”

Photo by Lee Bee Yan.

Emails to Life Science undergraduates: field trips and research conversation opportunities

Sent to AY2014/15 Sem 1 students reading LSM1103, LSM2251 & LSM3261.

Field assistants for honours students
Sign up at: http://tinyurl.com/hons-fieldwork

Our undergraduate research students are engaged in a variety of field observations following monkeys in the forest, studying freshwater streams, mapping the distribution of fruit trees important to civets, exploring trash in mangroves and a variety other work.

This is an important period in their lives when they grapple with field work very seriously, examine the literature, evaluate their methods and collect data with specific objectives. It is a steep learning curve and educational for undergraduates to be exposed to.

Hence Life Science undergraduates are encouraged to sign up as volunteer student assistants to gain exposure to field work, learn about nature areas in Singapore and observe how science is conducted in the field. You will learn a lot from conversations with research students whom you follow.

That’s pretty much how I started – I was a first year undergraduate when I responded to an invitation to carry heavy stuff for a mangrove research team.

After you register, research students will contact you with their field trip schedule. It is not a blanket period, you will be able to pick and choose dates.

Once you respond to individual researchers, you must commit to the appointments you sign up for, turn up early rain or shine and be communicative with the researcher. You reputation depends on this. You can also ask the research students for recommendations to secure your own projects in future.

Cheerio!

Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman

Invitation to a post-exam conversation with EVB Graduate students:
Mon 08 Dec 2014: 7.00pm
Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/dec-chalk

Dear undergraduates,

I am pleased to announce that three graduate students from the Environmental Biology (EVB) track are inviting you to an informal discussion about interests and concerns you might have about research in the Department of Biological Sciences. This is relation to the Honours year thesis (FYP), UROPS, lab attachments or techniques, experiences, constraints and philosophies.

Conversation with EVB grads about research in NUS DBS
Mon 08 Dec 2014: 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/dec-chalk

Undergrads should think about and discuss these issues early in your journey. There are few formal opportunities to do this so these graduate students are extending an invitation for you to join them in just such a conversation.

While Darren Yeo (Evo Lab), Ian Chan (Marine Lab) & Jerome Kok (Freshwater Lab) are in the EVB track, this invitation is extended to all undergraduate biologists.

Cheerio!

Sivasothi aka Otterman

Job: Research Assistant (National Carbon Stock Assessment; deadline 31 Oct 2014)

Research Assistant (Natural Sciences and Science Education)
The National Institute of Education invites suitable applications for the position of Research Assistant on a 6-month contract at the Natural Sciences and Science Education (NSSE).

Project Title: ANRICA – Carbon Stock Assessment

Project Introduction:
This is a 5-year national carbon accounting project in collaboration with the National Parks Board (NParks) with the aim of developing a national system to monitor carbon emissions/reductions resulting from loss/gain of vegetation due to changes in the land use over time.

All greenery and soil in Singapore will be taken into account when calculating carbon stocks, and the data collected will be incorporated into Singapore’s national emissions report to the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) as part of our national obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As this is the first time emissions from land use changes is reported for Singapore, the NParks has also hired the help of a consulting agency – the Austrian Natural Resources Management and International Cooperation Agency (ANRICA), who will provide the technical and reporting expertise required.

We are now seeking team leaders for data collection. Training will be provided to successful applicants, who will gain much experience in the full range of technical aspects involved in carbon stocks research in Singapore, as well as a deeper understanding of carbon reporting in the land-use change sector.

Requirements

  • At least a diploma in botany/forest ecology/relevant subject area.
  • Able to identify tree species would be an advantage.
  • Willing to go into forest areas and travel around Singapore.
  • Physically fit. Able to walk and hike long distances.
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently and in a team.
  • Responsible.
  • Possesses leadership qualities.
  • Fast learner.
  • Able to use Microsoft Office, especially Excel.
  • A valid Singapore Class 3 driving license is highly desirable.

Responsibilities

  • Leading a team through data collection
  • Setting up of field plots
  • Obtaining field data
  • Data entry into database

Training in field work methodology will be provided.

Application
Applicants should complete and submit the following item/s:

  1. Application form for Research Positions [link]
  2. Cover letter addressing how you meet the requirements of this position
  3. Supporting documents as stated on the job application form
  4. Other documents that demonstrate your qualifications

Please send your application to:

Denise Chng Pei Lin, Research Assistant
Natural Sciences and Science Education
National Institute of Education
Email: denise.chng@nie.edu.sg

**We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified**

Closing Date
31 October 2014

Other Information
NIE staff can take chartered buses at their own expense from or near their homes to the NIE campus. This is subject to availability of seats.

Jobs: 1) Research Fellow; 2) Research Assistant in Urban Ecology (Closing Date: 18 Oct 2014)

(1) Research Fellow in Urban Ecology

Job Description
The urban greenery and ecology group in the Department of Architecture at the School of Design and Environment invites application for a Research Fellow for a research project on biophilic design of townships in Singapore. The position is open for a 3-year appointment commencing in December 2014.

The research domain covers the multiple disciplines of landscape architecture, urban planning and design and human-nature relationships using urban ecology as the overarching framework. Additional project information can be found here (Project 3).

The Research Fellow will work closely with the Principal Investigator and co-Principal Investigators to conduct the research, assist in the general administration and management of the project, including supervision of Research Assistant and Graduate Student Researchers, and produce reports and papers. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and track record.

Requirements

The candidate should possess the following qualifications:

  • PhD from a recognized university in landscape architecture, urban planning and design, urban ecology. Relevant background related to the research and experience in conducting perception studies in urban areas is advantageous.
  • Excellent in spoken and written English, and communication skills.
  • Motivated and independent worker capable in managing a research team.
  • Strong interest in multi-disciplinary research.
  • Proficiency in basic design softwares, including AutoCAD and Adobe Programs.

Interested candidates should contact Assoc Prof. Tan Puay Yok (akitpy@nus.edu.sg) with the following:

  1. Cover letter describing career goals and motivations
  2. CV, which should include names of referees
  3. Examples of two to three pieces of scholarly writings

Please refer to the JobsBank link for the application process.

(1) Research Assistant in Urban Ecology

Job Description

The urban greenery and ecology group in the Department of Architecture at the School of Design and Environment invites application for a Research Assistant for a research project on biophilic design of townships in Singapore. The position is open for a 3-year appointment commencing in December 2014.

The research domain covers the multiple disciplines of landscape architecture, urban planning and design and human-nature relationships using urban ecology as the overarching framework. Additional project information can be found in this link (Project 3).

The Research Assistant will work closely with the Principal Investigator and his team in various aspects of the research, including collection of data, analysis and coordination of input from different research components. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and track record.

Requirements
The candidate should possess the following qualifications:

  • A good degree or Masters from a recognized university in landscape architecture, urban planning and design, urban ecology. Relevant background related to the research and experience in conducting perception studies in urban areas is advantageous.
  • Excellent in spoken and written English, and communication skills.
  • Motivated and independent worker who can work in a team.
  • Proficiency in basic design softwares, including AutoCAD, Adobe Programs
  • Proficiency in basic 3D rendering.

Interested candidates should contact Assoc Prof. Tan Puay Yok (akitpy@nus.edu.sg) with the following:

  1. Cover letter describing career goals and motivations
  2. CV, which should include names of referees
  3. Examples of two to three pieces of scholarly writings

Please refer to the JobsBank link for the application process.

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