Ong Say Lin to be appointed Director of ACRES Laos PDR

ACRES announced the long-awaited news yesterday, “A warm welcome to Say Lin to ACRES. He will be the Director of ACRES Laos PDR!”

Ong Say Lin, one of our 3rd-year life science undergraduates was in Laos PDR for the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore) (ACRES) and Laos Zoo for the establishment of the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre there.

You can read all the news reports on WildSingaporeNews.

Say Lin & Louis
Say Lin and Louis in Laos PDR. Photo by ACRES.

Say Lin is completing his third year this semester (including his wild boar UROPS) and after a reservist stint with the Singapore Armed Forces, will be on his way to Laos to take up his duties to setup the wildlife rescue centre there. During his undergraduate years, Say Lin interned at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), minored in Environmental Biology with University of Toronto, interned at The American Bear Association’s Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, resuscitated NUS PEACE, spoke up at and later eventually chaired sessions at the Animal Welfare Symposium.

He follows in proud footsteps – his boss at ACRES, Louis Ng, is a biology graduate too and presented at the Biodiversity & Ecology Journal Club way back in 2002, when he was still a student. He spoke out for animal welfare, started ACRES and has kept it going and motivated others all these years.

Congratulations Say Lin, we are all proud of you and will look forward to your updates!

Students who are interested in helping out at the ACRES Laos PDR can contact Say Lin at

See “Where is pigboy?!” By N. Sivasothi. Otterman speaks…, 30 Mar 2012.

Is bigger, better in European dung flies? Nalini and colleagues think so, in Evolution

When not lurking the corridors of the department, Nalini Puniamoorthy is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at University of Zurich.

She just send news that she has a spring in her step (pun intended) with a recent paper published in Evolution. You can see the early view here: Puniamoorthy, N., Schäfer, M. A. & Blanckenhorn, W. U., 2012. Sexual selection accounts for the geographic reversal of sexual size dimorphism in the dung fly, Sepsis punctum (Diptera: Sepsidae). Evolution. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01599.x

She sent her best wishes to all at home here in Singapore with the press release she coughed up to explain her research findings, and which you can read in the pdf here

Closure of Lab 7 from Reading Week to Sem 1 AY2012/3 (mid Apr – early Aug 2012)

A dreadful message for Tommy Tan about the beloved Life Sciences Lab 7 where we conduct classes, workshops, meetings and video screenings:

“LS Lab 7 will be closed from 16 April 2012 to early Aug 2012. It is being use to store LS Lab 1 & 2 equipment and consumables as both will labs will be renovated during the holiday period.

We will try to store everything in LS Lab 7A. If possible, we will then open LS Lab 7 B & C for use.”



It’s time to frantically relocate sessions scheduled during this period *groan* – so far this has included IBO, ICCS, Toddycats training and workshops and a hastily dumped idead about hosting Educamp SG.

Temporary closure of Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research collections May/Aug 2012 – Feb 2014

In preparation for the shift to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of SIngapore, an extensive inventory and maintenance on the collections of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research will be conducted.

In order to facilitate this, the museum’s collections will be closed to visitors and loans of specimens will be suspended. Users who have loaned out specimens are urged to return these before the stock-taking.

The closure dates are:

  • 01 May 2012 – Herbarium (SINU)
  • 01 Aug 2012 – Zoological Reference COllection (ZRC)

The collections are expected to be accessible once again in Feb 2014 at the earliest.

RMBR-ZRC_Herbarium_Closure-May_Aug2012.PDF (1 page)

Remembering Navjot Sodhi on his birthday

In February, Marjorie Castelletta-Gacon wrote me, saddened by the news of the departure of her old supervisor Navjot Sodhi’s departure. Marjorie was one of Sodhi’s first grad students in NUS who studied forest avifauna extinction (which my students are citing) and TA-ed his animal behaviour course.

Marjorie Castelletta-Gacon with Navjot Sodhi

She wrote so fondly and beautifully. With her permission, I am sharing this with all his students, friends and family, in memory of his birthday on the 19th of March when they would have been celebrating with Navjot.

“Dear old NUS friend,

I am deeply sad and I can’t believe he is gone, he was really important to me and to so many people I could see on his facebook page

I find very beautiful the tribute people have expressed to him and his loved ones and especially yours, It is important that he’ll never be forgotten.

To me he was a father-like teacher, very patient, very constructive; he was always telling me when I was too afraid to do my research: “You’ll learn, Marjorie.” I was so young (22) and I had this incredible luck to meet him and work with him and all his team in NUS.

These were wonderful years.

And he was right – I learnt everything in 4 years in Conservation Biology and most importantly I learnt Life!

After I finished my thesis, I kept in touch with him, and each time I went to Singapore I could hear his hyena-like laught for my great pleasure.

Last time I saw him, it was in 2009, he was so happy because he had spent a year in his favorite American University.

He was such a multi-talented man, and although he was a superstar of conservation biology, he remained the same man, passionate in research and teaching and devoted to his family.

It is such a huge loss to me.

After I finished my thesis, I followed Bertrand, my husband, to Geneva. We had a second child. Then I tried to find a post doc in Switzerland but I did not succeed. So I did part time teaching in high schools and private schools in Geneva. Then we had a third chid in 2008 (and Navjot told me that he hoped I’ll stop after that!) and we had a fourth kid in 2010 (I did not dare tell Navjot).

I was looking for Navjot’s research papers when I found out what happened. I am currently trying to go back to conservation biology and most precisely I have an interview at WWF Switzerland and for the memory of Navjot I will do more than my best to achieve; he was telling me he wanted me to stay in sciences.”

Marjorie Castelletta Gacon and family
Marjorie remarked – “I know it is his birthday as on the 19th
it is my son’s birthday and also Darwin’s!”