Ywee Chieh clears a hurdle

Graduate students undergo a qualifying exam before their projects are okay-ed for PhD pursuit. Its is typically a nerve-wracking time and probably a time many wonder why they are doing this in the first place. And a typical approach is to count down to and lament about the approaching “doomsday”.

However in the process of preparation, students realise they can make more sense of their subject matter than they might have thought they could and examiners may actually provide useful and realistic tips about project direction.

Ywee Chieh was the latest “victim” against the backdrop of undergraduate exams. The usual angst was amplified when her QE was announced on ecotax much to her dismay, but it is the usual practise.

In the end she did fine. In fact, when I saw her leaving campus in the evening, she was smiling. The QE had proved to be a fruitful session and actually brought her much relief; well done Ywee Chieh!

Last minute modification in SR4 before the grilling begins.

All done!


Young single male seeks 700 undergrads!

If you happen to be 18 – 25 years old…

… and happen to be around Lecture Theatre 24 and 25 in NUS…


…and see this poor guy hovering around a makeshift booth…

…so step forward and say “hi”, and volunteer five minutes of your time. He needs 700 volunteers willing to play a simple computer game. The outcome of this research exercise? Well for once, it will determine if he graduates with an MSc degree!

This exercise involves the volunteer in the role of a “predator” hunting virtual prey, against a complex background. This project will help identify the interaction between prey and background patterns which contribute to the evolution of camouflage protection. Read about his ravings here to learn more.

Marine Bio Lab: New members

They are actually not new, they have joined the lab for a couple of months. (Yours truly has been procastinating to write this entry…)


Lionel Ng joined TMSI since October as a research assistant. He is based in Marine Bio lab under the supervision of Prof Chou.

(Photo removed, sorry Diana~)

Diana Neo is also an RA based in marine bio lab, working on a joint project with NParks.


Yan Xiang is the newest catch recruit of marine bio lab + TMSI, supervised by Dr Peter Todd.

All of them were graduated from NUS class of 2008… And coincidentally, all of them did their honors project in marine bio lab! Who says bio students can’t find job? 😉

Duc moves on

Six years and four months since he stepped onto the pirate ship that is Ecolab, Duc returned to Hanoi yesterday with his Phd in his pocket, ready to start his own empire building back in Vietnam.

The last week was crazy with him distilling his life in Singapore into little boxes, sorting specimens and hosting Dr. Zettel, his long time collaborator. Nevertheless, that did not deter him from taking two days out to help with the massive lab reshuffle.

Also, here are more pictures of Duc in the lab and as a TA during his grad student years.

Modeling the brand new BioD polos

Sewing tray nets!

Of course, he managed to wrangle a curry fish head treat from the boss for the entire lab before he left. Hooray!

lab lunch

Candid lab shot

To those who missed saying your goodbyes, fret not! He will be back periodically for visits. Ecolab will not be able to get rid of him this easily. All the best and good luck Duc!

Faculty awards!

Faculty Awards for teaching and service, well done everyone!

L-R: Tommy Tan, Laura-Marie Yap, Rudolf Meier,
Jose Christopher E. “JC” Mendoza, Reena Devi

J.C. kindly sent in this report:

The Faculty of Science 2008 Awards were given to the different members of the faculty’s component departments in a ceremony at the University Hall last Friday (14 November 2008). Present at the awarding ceremony were Prof. Andrew Wee, Dean of the Faculty of Science, with Prof. Tan Thiam Soon, Vice-Provost for Education, as Guest of Honor.

The Bio-D group of the Department of Biological Sciences, bagged a good number of awards this year:

Faculty Teaching Excellence Award
A/Prof Rudolf Meier
Mr. Sivasothi N.

Teaching Assistant Award (Part-Time)
Mr. Jose Christopher Mendoza
Ms. Phyu Phyu Tun Karenne
Ms. Yap Yen Ling, Laura-Marie

Outstanding Service Award
Mr. Tan Han Tong, Tommy

Long Service Award
Prof. Peter K. L. Ng (20 years)
Prof. Chou Loke Ming (30 years)

According to JC, Laura & Tommy, who were present during the ceremony, one of the most memorable moments was when the students’ feedback on the Teaching Excellence awardees were read out for the audience, with one student reportedly gushing over A/Prof Meier’s “sexy classroom voice”.

Congratulations everyone!

Danwei’s letter to Science

Hi Siva,

Hehe just thought to share this with the rest of the BioD community here, that Danwei has published a letter to Science! Not sure if this is newsworthy enough to post on the blog, but it sure is great news to the marine labbies 😉


Hi Yujie,

lovely news! Thanks for the highlighting this!



Of beetles and bosses on sabbatical

Conservation Ecology Lab denizens Janice Lee, Lainie Qie and Enoka Kudavidanage, otherwise known as the “dung beetle girls”, attended the Scarabnet meeting in Black Rock Forest, New York from September 25-29.  They met fellow dung beetle researchers, presented their work, and engaged in serious discussions on the ecology of their study organisms, asking questions such as “What is the best dung to use in our pitfall traps?”




After the conference, they traveled up to Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts to visit Navjot Sodhi (and harass his dog, Max). They are happy to report (and provide photographic evidence) that their adviser-on-sabbatical is doing well and is still hard at work in his tiny office down the hall from E.O. Wilson’s room.  



Reuben Clements – still plugging away in KL

Biodiversity crew alumnus Reuben Clements may be busy tracking rhinos and tigers in the last wilderness of the Malaysian jungle with WWF Malaysia these days, but that does not stop him from finding time to keep going at his primary research!


This month sees a bumper crop of two papers from him and his collaborators.

Well done and congrats all around!

Rudolf Meier now Vice President of the Willi Hennig Society


Prof. Meier has recently been made the vice president of the Willi Hennig society. Founded in 1980, it promotes the field of phylogenetic systematics, or cladistics. This refers to the classification of species based on evolutionary ancestry.  The latter is also the name of the ISI-ranked journal which is published on the society’s behalf.

He will also be organising Hennig XXVIII, the 2009 annual meeting in Singapore. This marks the society’s first meeting in Asia. This decision to hold the meeting in Singapore recognises the increasing strength of systematic research being done here and in the region. Specific dates have yet to be determined but dates within June and July look most likely.

Congratulations Prof Meier!