Tue 26 Apr 2016: 3.30pm [QE] – Gowri d/o Rajaratnam on “Deciphering the evolution and development of a novel abdominal appendage in Black Scavenger Flies (Sepsidae: Diptera)”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

“Deciphering the evolution and development of a novel abdominal appendage in Black Scavenger Flies (Sepsidae: Diptera)”

Speaker:      Gowri D/O Rajaratnam (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:           26 April 2016, Tuesday
Time:           3.30pm
Venue:         Seminar Room 1 (S2 Level 4, #04-14)
Supervisor:  Prof Meier, Rudolf

Abstract: – Despite their diversity in shape and size, most adult insects retain a conserved body plan. Gains of appendages, especially in the proximal abdominal segments, are a rare phenomenon in the insect world. In several sepsid species, however, the males have modified their 4th sternites into appendage-like brushes that are used during courtship.

Here, I propose to study the evolution and development of these remarkable abdominal appendages. Firstly, I reconstructed the evolution of the 4th sternite brushes by carrying out a phylogenetic analysis based on a combination of transcriptomes for 28 species and mitochondrial genomes for 125 species. The results imply that the sternite appendage most likely originated close to the base of the sepsid phylogeny with a subsequent loss and at least one reacquisition. Secondly, in order to understand the ontogeny of this novel appendage, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was optimized for sepsids in order to identify the gene regulatory network that was co-opted during appendage development in different species. Using this system, key candidate genes such as Doublesex and Distal-less will be knocked-out to test their roles in the development of the sternite appendages.

Lastly, I carried out a comparative analysis for 31 sepsid species in order to determine the developmental costs for building abdominal appendages.  I document that males with large and more complex appendages have slower development and emerge smaller than the corresponding conspecific females.

All are welcome


Job: Research Assistant position in conservation science modelling (deadline: 20 May 2016)

Applications are invited for the position of a full time Research Assistant position on projects related to conservation science: bioeconomic modelling, land-use change and sustainability modelling.

An ideal candidate will demonstrate good critical thinking and independence in carrying out project tasks. With support from other team members, they will be exposed to multiple conservation science projects and expected to learn a range of modelling techniques with a strong focus on statistics and GIS.

This position would be ideal for individuals with a medium term plan of pursuing PhD studies in related disciplines.

The RA would have either a degree in ecology, geography, environmental sciences, environmental economics or related disciplines. Applicants with degrees in statistics, mathematics, physics, engineering or computing are also encouraged to apply.

The position is initially for one year with the possibility of extension to another year.

The salary is $3,000 per month (US$2,132) and includes medical benefits. CPF for Singaporean nationals are in addition to the salary.

Please send your CV including a section describing your quantitative skills, software you are familiar with and previous research work conducted using these skills (cover letter is not needed).

The successful applicant will join the BioEcon Lab at the Department of Biological Sciences of the National University of Singapore. The Department of Biological Sciences has over 60 faculty and 300 graduate students. Facilities and research support are world-class and the university and department are highly regarded internationally.

Closing date for applications: 20 May 2016 (please email dbsctlr@nus.edu.sg).

L. Roman Carrasco, PhD
Assistant Professor in Conservation Science
Email: dbsctlr@nus.edu.sg
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4, 117543, Singapore
Website: http://staff.science.nus.edu.sg/~ecoleconlab/)

MSc opportunity: Conservation of Megapodius cumingii [BurungTambun] on the Mantanani Islands, Sabah, Malaysia

MSc opportunity: Project Tambun

Project Tambun, a community project for the conservation of the Philippine megapode Megapodius cumingii [BurungTambun] on the Mantanani Islands, Sabah, Malaysia is proposed by the Sabah Society, Camps Borneo & Lord Cranbrook. See details in this document: Project Tambun MSc proposal.pdf

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This topic is suitable for the “Lady Yuen Peng McNeice Graduate Fellowship” at the National University of SIngpore, which is awarded to outstanding students keen to pursue research in the Southeast Asian Biodiversity. This award is open to Singapore Citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents and graduates of an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) university.

Details of the award are available at NUS’ Faculty of Science webpage.

Please contact Professor Rudolf Meier of the Department of Biological Sciences if you are keen to apply for the Fellowship.

Job: Full-time Research Assistant at Freshwater & Invasion Biology Lab (1-year, renewable; deadline 27 May 2016)

Freshwater & Invasion Biology Lab
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Research Assistant
We are looking for a Full-time Research Assistant to work in the Freshwater and Invasion Biology Laboratory.

Under the direction of the project manager, primary tasks will include conducting: 

  • Field studies in freshwater habitats involving fish, macroinvertebrate and plankton sampling
  • Laboratory based work involving sorting and processing of specimens and data collected during field work
  • Technical and report/scientific paper writing

Requirements include:

  • BSc (Hons) or equivalent, with prior experience in freshwater ecology preferred
  • Good organizational skills and excellent attention to detail is essential
  • Possess leadership qualities, self-motivated, responsible, and a fast learner
  • Independent, but also able to work in a collaborative, team-oriented environment
  • Physically fit for extended periods of field work
  • A valid Singapore Class 3 driving license is highly desirable
  • Some weekend flexibility may be required
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and Adobe applications
  • Data analysis (using R, SPSS, Statistica and Primer); training will be provided if necessary

This is a 1 year (renewable) grant-funded position. Interested individuals are invited to send your applications that include a CV and three recommendation letters, with a cover letter to:

Assistant Professor Darren Yeo Chong Jinn
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore,
14, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543
Email: dbsyeod@nus.edu.sg

For more information about our research, please visit http://www.dbs.nus.edu.sg/lab/FW_lab/Main.htm
We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews. Closing date for application is 27 May 2016.

Job: Research Field Assistant – Botany/Plant Ecology, May – Jun 2016

Duration: May 2016 – June 2016 (200 hours)

Position: Open for full-time undergraduate students only.

Summary of job duties:
The successful applicant will join a team of researchers to determine an ecological network for Singapore. The field work involves vegetation assessments at different sites in Singapore. The applicant will employ scientific equipment and visual analysis for collecting plant and vegetation data. The applicant will assist in data entry into GIS databases of the observations, as well as perform necessary calculations. Hours will vary depending on the nature of data collection and the site for any particular day. The successful candidate will be trained in the required field and GIS techniques.

We are looking for someone who is familiar with vegetation assessment techniques such as using the spherical densitometer, and who understands what vegetation assessment entails. Past experience with plants and knowledge of plant species a bonus, but the latter is not compulsory. The person must be meticulous with an eye for detail in the field, willing to contribute to a unique island-wide project, and is interested in gaining research experience.

Must enjoy working outdoors, be physically fit, not be afraid of entering a forested area, and have good communication and interpersonal skills. The applicant should be self-motivated yet willing to learn new techniques and software, and able to work independently as well as with other team members. Minimum software requirement is the Microsoft Office suite.

Candidates that are interested should send an email introducing yourself with resume attached to:

Abdul Rahim Bin Abdul Hamid
Research Associate
School of Design & Environment, NUS

Job: Manager/ Biodiversity (Biodiversity Information & Policy) (deadline 24 Apr 2016)

Manager/ Biodiversity (Biodiversity Information & Policy)
Agency: National Parks Board
Apply by 24 Apr 2016 at Careers@Gov.

The Biodiversity Information and Policy branch under the National Biodiversity Centre is responsible for developing biodiversity information products and services, coordinating and promoting collaboration and partnerships in enhancing urban biodiversity and ecology in Singapore, driving the implementation of policies and guidelines pertaining to biodiversity conservation and managing the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Key Roles
The successful applicant is required to facilitate and steer biodiversity research towards conservation priorities in support of Singapore’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, manage the research application and approval process, organize biodiversity research presentations, workshops and citizen science programmes and to regularly review the kind of biodiversity research being conducted in Singapore.


  • Degree in Biology or related discipline from a recognized university with at least 3 years of relevant work experience
  • Keen interest and passion in biodiversity conservation
  • Strong organization and analytical skills
  • Good writing and interpersonal / communication skills
  • Competence in database management and experience in using Global Information Systems (GIS) will be an advantage
  • Some experience in doing scientific research work

Only shortlisted candidates will be notified.
Advertised: 08 Apr 08 2016; Application close: 24 Apr 2016

Apply at Careers@Gov.