Tue 28 Apr 2015: 2pm @ SR2 – Lee Bee Yan on the spider crabs of Singapore

Qualifying Exam

“The spider crabs of Singapore, and a revision of Hyastenus White, 1847, and Rochinia A. Milne-Edwards, 1875 (Majoidea: Epialtidae: Pisinae)”

Ms Lee Bee Yan
Graduate Student,
Department of Biological Sciences,
National University of Singapore

Tue 28 Apr 2015: 2.00pm
Seminar Room 2 (S2,04-15)
Department of Biological Sciences

Supervisor: Prof Peter Ng K L
Co-Supervisor:  Dr Ng Ngan Kee
 
All are welcome

Abstract

Majoid crabs are a group of widely distributed crustaceans, with a total of six families. This project is in three main parts. Firstly, there has not been a formal checklist of the Majoidea of Singapore except an unpublished list by Ow-Yang (1963), who listed 25 valid species of spider crabs from three majoid families. The status and taxonomy of these brachyuran crabs need to be revisited after more than five decades, especially with the substantial changes in the brachyuran systematics which have taken place in the interim. This project is also feasible in view of the recent Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (CMBS) which has obtained a large series of spider crabs from Singapore – thus now, a revised comprehensive checklist of the Majoidea can be conducted.

Secondly, although the superfamily Majoidea Samouelle, 1819, is one of the largest superfamilies in the Brachyura with 892 species, there have been few recent revisions of its members. The family Epialtidae MacLeay, 1838, is the largest of the six families within Majoidea. The two selected genera, Hyastenus White, 1847, and Rochinia A. Milne-Edwards, 1875, for revision are the most species-rich genera. Although diverse in species and common in many habitats, their taxonomy is still poorly resolved. Hence, the aim for this part of the project is to revise and refine the systematics of the two selected genera.

Lastly, these crabs, commonly known as decorator crabs, are known to pick debris from their surroundings to attach to their carapaces and legs, serving as a form of camouflage. Though there are reviews of the decoration behaviour of these crabs, little is known about the species found within the Indo-West Pacific region. This project will review the decorating behaviour and functional morphology of the setae and spine of Majoidea, in particular, in taxa from the Indo-West Pacific region.

Tue 21 Apr 2015: 11am – Ng Shengrong on “Influence of Pleistocene climate change on patterns of gene flow across the avifauna of Wallacea”

Qualifying Examination

“Influence of Pleistocene climate change on patterns of gene flow across the avifauna of Wallacea”

Nathaniel Ng Shengrong
Graduate Student,
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Tuesday 21 April 2015: 11.00am
Seminar Room 1 (S2-0414)
Supervisor: Asst Prof Rheindt, Frank Erwin

Abstract – Wallacea hosts extremely high levels of vertebrate endemism and is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading biodiversity hotspots. One of the primary mechanisms leading to the rich biodiversity of the region is its complex earth history. Pleistocene glaciation events in the last 2.5mya have subjected the region to sequential ~120 m sea level changes, resulting in the repeated appearance and disappearance of land bridges between some of its landmasses. This has subjected populations to alternating cycles of isolation and contact, turning Wallacea into a natural laboratory for studies on biogeography, evolution, and speciation.

The aim of my PhD thesis is to investigate patterns of gene flow and divergence in the avifauna of the region in the context of Pleistocene sea level fluctuations, using a combination of genome-wide SNP analyses and bioacoustic techniques.

All are welcome.

Remembering Dr Ong Bee Lian, lecturer, mentor and friend

OBL memorial photoWhen we shared the passing of Dr Ong Bee Lian, I was very touched by the comments many former students made in response to the news. They spoke of her lecturing, nurturing mentorship and kindness. I made a general call and thanks to former students from over two decades (1991 – 2011), this aspect of her life is shared and remembered.

Over the years, I had witnessed her dedication to module matching and placement of students on the exchange programme. More recently, I was able to appreciate very much her strong support for fairness, respect and trust for students when we worked on an ethics committee. I am glad we remember this aspect of her life, for us to appreciate and emulate.

Her family, the many department staff she was close to, and her former students are greatly saddened by her passing and will be glad to hear these thoughts. Those who wish to contribute can still do so here: tinyurl.com/obl-memories.

Thank you Bee Lian, for the kindness you expressed to those around you.

With respect and gratitude,
N. Sivasothi
Department of Biological Sciences,
National University of Singapore

Justin Lee, student (BSc Hons Botany 1991) says,

“As one of the few woman lecturers around, I will always remember her — not least for the colourful floral dresses — she literally added some colour to the Botany department. Thank you for all that you taught us. You fought hard.

R.I.P. now, Bee Lian.”

Amy Choong, student (BSc Hons Botany 1991) and colleague (2013 – 2015), says,

“I still remembered what she wore when she came for some of the lectures when I was an undergrad. She used to wear a cheongsum.

I remembered sitting with her on the chartered bus after one department retreat and we had a conversation about our parents and about life.

The last time I spoke to her was during one of the department lunch. I think it was a farewell for Prof Benito.

She was one of the few colleagues whom I can converse in Cantonese with. It is special.”

Maureen Chan, student (BSc Hons Botany 1991), says,

“Student Dr Ong was fondly called Dr Blong (B.L.Ong) and she was elegant, earnest in what she set out to do and warm. She must have inspired many a female student as she did me.

I was touched when she remembered my name when I returned to the department for the 80th Anniversary of Science Fac and I had brought my kids for the experiments in the lab. I consulted her about doing my post grad and she very kindly advised me the costs it would incur now as a mature student – she was still the warm approachable and kind Dr BLong whom I thought looked the same as I had remembered her way back when.

God bless you Dr Ong and thank you for your guidance and inspiration.”

Chang Chia Yi, student (BSc Honours Zoology, 1995), says,

“Honestly, I can’t remember what she taught but because of her, I learnt what a strong and intelligent woman looks like. She exudes confidence that tells you that she knows what she is talking about, and yet compassion and connection so that I can easily approach and learn from her, not just about botany but also about life in general.

Thank you so much, Dr Ong for being a testament of a life lived that is connected and meaningful and full of laughter! May you rest in peace and my condolences to Dr. Ong’s family and friends in this time of bereavement.”

Adrian Loo, student (BSc Hons Botany 1997) and colleague (2002-2004), says,

“As a botany undergraduate, I always found Dr Ong to be approachable and very well versed in her teaching topic, Plant Physiology. She would come in with blank OHP sheets, then the mode of instruction, and then start to develop ideas that were in her head onto the OHP sheets. This development of concepts from scratch made us appreciate the topic very much. She also made a point to print out for us papers in Plant Physiology for us to read.

As an Honours student and later a Postgraduate and postdoc, she was perhaps one of the most supportive of the local students who went into academia. A most happy memory of her was when I had tea with her and Prof Loh Chiang Shiong in the department and I can remember we had a jovial chat and she would speak of her nieces. RIP Bee Lian, thanks for being a wonderful teacher and plant physiologist. We will miss you.”

Lim Cheng Puay, student (BSc Hons, 2000), says,

“I knew Dr Ong since I became a student in the Botany Department. First impression of Dr Ong as she entered the lecture theatre was that she is a very stern lecturer. It’s not easy explaining the intricacies of plant metabolism to a group of restless undergraduates but she did it with her calm collected composure.

Dr Ong took me in as her research student readily when I asked her if she mind being my mentor. This was when I saw the nurturing side of her. She made sure that I had enough background information about the project, it was on the photosynthetic fluorescence of Pyrrosia pilloselloides. It was 3 sets of 24 hours measurement.

Dr Ong was very patient with this bumbling student of hers, trusting me with a brand new Hansatech machine and teaching me how to interpret the stacks of graphs generated. These skills still serve me very well as a teacher as I now mentor students on research projects.

Years later, I met Dr Ong in a shopping mall. She spotted me instantly and waved at me. It was like meeting an old friend. Dr Ong immediately passed me her email and number when she learnt that I am a biology teacher and invited me to send students over to her lab. I was very touched by her generosity and through this very spontaneous gesture, I realised how deeply passionate she is in education and in nurturing future scientists.

Thank you Dr Ong, you have shaped a very important part of my undergraduate life. Thank you.”

Eileen Oh, honours student (BSc Hons Life Sciences, 2002), says,

“Dr Ong was my supervisor for my honours thesis on the acridity of plants. She was patient and kind, and spent long hours with us on our experiments, guiding us in our findings and thesis. I have learnt much from her and I enjoyed our academic discussions as well as our personal chit-chat. I will always remember her smile and willingness to share. Rest in peace, Dr Ong. Thank you for the wonderful memories.”

Reuben Clements, student (BSc Life Sciences, 2004; MSc Life Sciences, 2007) and scientific collaborator, says,

“If I were to sum up Dr. Ong in one word – I would use the word ‘strong’. She was my first lecturer in NUS and she was in charge of the bridging module of my Biology degree. I never took biology for A-levels and that was why I had to take this bridging module. I spoke to her about my fear of not being able to make it past the module, which would then prevent me from progressing further in the degree. But she was very encouraging. Throughout my time at NUS, I found her to be a very caring person who always had time for her students and colleagues. She didn’t seem to smile a lot when she was hurriedly walking around the corridors, but when you spoke to her to long enough, she would sometimes give a unique laugh that would make your day.

I was fortunate enough to be a collaborator with her in a project after my MSc, and her professionalism always shone through. I am grateful to have known you Dr. Ong – you have been one of the strongest people I’ve met in my life and an example to follow.”

Gwynne Lim, student (BSc Life Sciences, 2007) says,

“Dr. Ong Bee Lian is an inspiration to me, as a successful and rigorous scientist who is female when so few are.”

Lynn, student (BSc Life Sciences, 2008), says,

“Dr Ong was my mentor for an undergrad research project. I remembered how she was more than a mentor, sharing anecdotes of her life and advising on career matters. I am deeply saddened by her passing. Thank you Dr Ong. You will be missed.”

Wee Yew Ming, student, (BSc Hons Life Sciences, 2009), says,

“Dr Ong had been a great educator and mentor, and I still look back at my FYP year with fond memories of her and my labmates. It saddens me to learn of her passing. My sincere condolences to her family and loved ones.”

Loh Kok Sheng, student (BSc Hons Life Sciences, 2009) says,

“I remember Dr Ong as a lecture who taught concepts and details very clearly and methodically. So much so that now as a teacher, I do remember glimpses of her excellent teaching as I reflect on my teaching pedagogy. Dr Ong is someone who takes pride in the delivery of her lessons.”

Xu Weiting, student (BSc Life Sciences, 2010) says,

“I first met Dr Ong in my third year plant physiology module as a Life Sciences undergraduate in 2008. Dr Ong was a role model for women in academia with her passion for the subject and concern for her students. Even though Dr Ong had a reputation as a strict and stern lecturer, but when you knew her personally, she was always all smiles and approachable.

RIP and thank you Dr Ong, the lessons that you taught me as an undergraduate will forever be kept in my memory.”

Karen Wong, colleague (UPIP Administrator in Dean’s Office), says,

“She was Life Sciences coordinator for the Science Internship programme and I was the administrator in the Dean’s Office.

I was very shocked when I read about her passing on FB. At this time, I remember our last email correspondence. Always a caring educator. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Mindy Tuan, student (BSc Hons Life Sciences, 2011) says,

“Dr Ong, while strict, was also humorous and patient with her students. She would tell us her life lessons and personal stories during lecture breaks, one of which I remember and laugh about to this day (about where to go if you were bitten by a snake).

Her stern objection to my overseas programme application stemmed from her concern for my family’s financials, and in making her stand, made me appreciate and work even harder for it. She was sometimes fierce and scary, but more often than not, kind and soft-hearted.

I have never forgotten her all these years – may she rest in peace.”

Dr Ong Bee Lian’s Memorial at the Department of Biological Sciences – Mon 20 April 2015: 4.00pm @ LT 32

Dr Ong Bee Lian’s Memorial – Mon 20 April 2015: 4.00pm @ LT 32

Dr Teresa Ong Bee Lian

Born in Singapore on 16 September 1957
Passed away in Singapore on 23 March 2015
Aged 57 years
Always remembered by family and loved ones.

OBL memorial photo

From Paul Thomas Matsudaira (Head, Biological Sciences) 


Subject: Dr Ong Bee Lian’s Memorial – 20 April 2015 at 4.00 p.m., LT 32
 

“Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
 
The department is planning a memorial for Dr Ong Bee Lian  on Monday, 20 April 2015 at 4 pm in LT32 and all are invited to attend. Her family members will also be present.
 
She was a long standing member of the department from the time she was a student (B.Sc. Honours) University of Singapore. Many count Dr Ong as a close friend and colleague. She was a passionate teacher and mentor of our undergraduates. She will be missed and we intend to honor her memory with sharing by a few colleagues and students, as well as a presentation slide into a glimpse of her life in the department.
 
Please attend.

Regards,
Paul”

Thu 16 Apr 2015: 3.00pm – Joshua Koh on “The ecology and management of Sus scrofa vittatus in CCNR”

NUS DBS Qualifying Exam

The ecology and management of Sus scrofa vittatus in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve of mainland Singapore

Joshua Koh Jun Min
Graduate Student,
Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS

Thu 16  April 2015: 3.00pm     

Conference Room 2
S1, Level 3, mezzanine (access via S2-03)
Department of Biological Sciences
Science Drive 4
National University of Singapore

Supervisor: David Bickford

Abstract – The banded pig, Sus scrofa vittatus, in the absence of natural predators and hunting pressures, is hypothesized to be hyper-abundant within Singapore’s forests. Their high densities pose a threat to Singapore’s already disturbed forest ecosystems and increases the risk of human-animal conflicts. Despite being a native animal, its role within Singapore’s forest ecosystems has not been fully understood yet. Therefore, there is a need for estimating the absolute abundance of Sus scrofa vittatus and quantifying its effects in Singapore’s forests.

The proposed method is to analyse data, obtained from camera trapping, with a recently developed Spatial Capture-Recapture (SCR) model that overcomes most of the problems encountered by traditional capture-recapture models. Additionally, an exclusion plot study is proposed to quantify both positive and negative impacts the pigs have in Singapore’s forests.

All are welcome!

Vote for Singapore’s National Butterfly! Deadline – 30 April 2015

The National Butterfly will not only be an ambassador for butterfly species, but also for the lesser studied but equally important insects living within the same environment.

What to find out about these butterfly nominees? Check out Singapore’s National Butterfly webpage to find out more about these charismatic species –  their colours, size, habitat, and more!

The National Butterfly campaign, launched on 21 Mar 2015 (Sat) in conjunction with World Water Day, aims to raise awareness on the importance of butterflies in the environment. There are over 300 species of butterflies in Singapore, of which 20 are critically endangered. Without butterflies, reproduction of our trees and shrubs will be severely affected, and our biodiversity will be reduced.

Each of these nominees have been carefully selected by experts in field based on their beauty, size, life status (if they are threatened or endangered), endemism or uniqueness to Singapore, as well as its reflection of Singapore traits or symbols (e.g., resilience, adaptability, the Singapore flag). All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are eligible to vote for a butterfly they feel is representative of the Singapore identity. 

The deadline for voting is 30 Apr 2015 (Thurs), so do cast your vote now. Not to mention, voters of the winning butterfly will stand a chance to win an amazing mystery prize in a lucky draw!

For more information, do check out their webpage or facebook page.

RIP Mr Lee Kuan Kuan Yew

“Mr Lee Kuan Yew dedicated his entire life in service of our nation and its people. His leadership was always marked by hope and a sense of collective purpose, inspiring us all to work towards an ever better Singapore. We mourn the passing of an eminent alumnus, an inspirational leader, and a Singapore icon. Our thoughts are with PM and Mrs Lee, and the Lee family during this difficult time.”
– Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President

“NUS and Singapore have lost a great man. As Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team transformed an island with no natural resources into a thriving, cosmopolitan city – all in just one generation. Mr Lee focused on education as a key pillar for national development, and for this, we will always be grateful. We are proud that he was a part of Raffles College and NUS. We are deeply saddened by his passing, and send our condolences to PM Lee, Mrs Lee and the Lee family.”
– Prof Tan Eng Chye, Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost

LKY Memoriam NUS

The NUS community is invited to share their thoughts in memory of Mr Lee on the NUS Facebook page.