Job: Research Assistant @ Insect Diversity Lab (deadline: Aug 1 2018)

The Insect Diversity Lab at the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, is in search of a full-time Research Assistant. We study global insect diversity with current focus on bees and related wasps of Southeast Asia. A key goal is to develop taxonomic infrastructure and to use this to advance research on insect urban ecology, behaviour, and conservation.


Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Data entry and management of specimen and bibliographic databases.
  • Technical and report/scientific paper editing.
  • Field sampling of bees/wasps using a sweep net.
  • Processing of collected specimens (pinning, labelling, curating, dissection for DNA).
  • Specimen imaging using an imaging system.
  • Acting as a liaison with various external agencies, e.g. NParks to obtain permits.


  • Prior experience in the field of entomology will help greatly but can be picked up on the job.
  • Written and verbal competency in the English language is a necessity.
  • Prior technical expertise or familiarity with software used in data management, analysis, and visualization is preferred.
  • Additional abilities/experience in statistics and/or genomics is desirable, but absence of either is not a preclusion for consideration of hire.
  • The candidate should be conscientious and adaptive, and enthusiastic about working with insects both alive and dead.
  • The job requires attention to detail and the ability to maintain focus when working independently.

Application details

  • This position is for 1 year, with potential for renewal.
  • Applicants should be ready to start work in August/September.
  • Degree in Life Sciences or related field.
  • Remuneration: SGD $3,000/month (dependent on qualifications and includes CPF contribution for Singaporeans/PR).
  • Interested applicants should submit their CV, a short write-up about how this job may contribute to the applicant’s long term goals, and a sample of their academic writing.
  • Please submit these to and
  • Short-listed applicants will be notified for an interview

Assistant Professor John Stoskopf Ascher
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
14, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543


Jobs: Postdocs & RA positions with Roman Carrasco’s Bioeconomic Modelling Lab (apply by 20th May 2018)

Psychological benefits of biodiversity in Singapore.

Positions: 1 Postdoc & 1 Research Assistant

Project description: Exposure to nature has been linked to human wellbeing. These benefits range from increases in life satisfaction and health (e.g. reduced mental health problems, obesity and high-blood pressure). The majority of studies linking urban greenspaces and wellbeing have however been limited to temperate regions, and information to guide recommendations on how to achieve positive wellbeing outcomes from tropical urban greenspaces remains largely non-existent.

In addition, research has in general focused on green spaces without distinguishing between the different components of biodiversity in ecosystems (e.g. species richness, functional diversity) and how the type of exposure to these components may affect wellbeing.

This project aims to fill these gaps by studying the relationship between tropical biodiversity exposure and measures of wellbeing through nature walks, semi-controlled and controlled experiments.

Roles: The research fellow and research assistant will contribute to the project through devising research experiments and developing surveys to study how biodiversity influences wellbeing.

Period & Application

  • Successful applicants will join the BioEcon Lab at the Department of Biological Sciences of the National University of Singapore.
  • Funding for the research fellow and research assistant is at competitive rates and available for 2 years.
  • To apply please send your CV to (Roman Carrasco) before the 20 May 2018.

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Sustainable diets in Singapore

Position: 1 Postdoc

Project description: A global transition towards diets high in refined sugars, fats and animal protein is taking place as income rises in nations. This new diets unite human health, food security and the environment in unprecedented ways. On the one hand, they lead to higher prevalence of diseases such as coronary heart disease and type II diabetes, on the other hand, they require inefficient crops with large environmental footprints (e.g. cattle ranching, sugarcane) and that are produced, in most instances, at the expense of tropical forests. These multifold negative impacts open an opportunity to curb the rampant increase in non-communicable diseases while conserving nature and strengthening the food security of countries like Singapore.

The project has two main research objectives: (i) identify and map the trade-offs between health, the environment and food security of individual ingredients and most consumed dishes in Singapore; and (ii) identify the substitutability between ingredients according to the preferences of consumers in Singapore.

The project will aim to help Singaporean’s policy makers identify interventions that would most effectively switch consumer patterns towards healthier eating with minimum impact on their utility and respecting their preferences. Likewise, achievable dietary switches that increase the food security of Singapore and the preservation of nature will be identified.

Roles: The research fellow will be in charge of survey design and data analysis using GIS and R and leading publication writing.

Period & Application

  • Successful applicants will join the BioEcon Lab at the Department of Biological Sciences of the National University of Singapore.
  • Funding for the research fellow and research assistant is at competitive rates and available for 2 years.
  • To apply please send your CV to (Roman Carrasco) before the 20 May 2018.

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Fri 27 Apr 2018: 10.00am – Lawrence Liao on the clues herbarium specimens provide about recent environmental changes

Friday, 27 April 2018 | 10am | DBS Conference Room 1 SEMINAR
Hosted by A/P Peter Todd

“Dead Men Tell No Tales but Dead Plants Do: Herbarium specimens provide clues about recent environmental changes”

By Lawrence M. Liao
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Biosphere
Science, Hiroshima University

About the talk – “Herbarium specimens deposited in museums around the world have traditionally been used to support taxonomic studies. Lately, new uses have been identified on top of their traditional roles. Some histological and chemical features therein have been used to describe and relate with changing environmental conditions, providing proxy data potentially useful for studies in climate and environmental change.

In this presentation, examples from flowering plants and marine algae showing variability in phenology and morphological characteristics including their presence or absence have been used for mapping general community changes through time and space, biogeographical shifts, invasion history, urbanization and other anthropogenic impacts, affording a record of the recent past even if sketchy and perhaps, a peek into the future.

About the speaker – Associate Professor Lawrence Liao has worked with hundreds of herbarium specimens as part of his research on the taxonomy of marine algae in the USA and Southeast Asia. He took graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of the Philippines and was a recipient of a research fellowship in museums management at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Still very much active within the ASEAN network of seaweed taxonomists, he is completing a seaweed database of the South China Sea.

He is the president of the Association of Systematic Biologists of the Philippines and currently holds a teaching appointment at the Graduate School of Biosphere Science of Hiroshima University.


Fri 27 Apr 2018: 11.00am – Roman Carrasco on “Strategies to reconcile wild nature and tropical agriculture”

Friday 27 April 2018 | 11am | DBS Conference Room 1 SEMINAR
Hosted by Prof Rudolf Meier

Strategies to reconcile wild nature and tropical agriculture

By Roman Carrasco
Assistant Professor,
Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

About the talk – A rapidly increasing human population with higher consumption per capita poses a threat to the sustainability of the planet. This is especially acute in the tropics where most of the remaining global land suitable for agriculture overlaps with megadiverse tropical forests. Finding strategies to reconcile tropical agriculture and wild nature is thus vital for global sustainability.

To identify these strategies, the work of the lab has focused on: (i) identifying the spatial distribution of benefits and costs generated by tropical agricultural production and nature; and (ii) studying the effectiveness of interventions aimed at their reconciliation. Related to (i), I will describe our work on mapping the trade-offs between agriculture and multiple ecosystem services, the evaluation of the implications of the loss of tropical forests on national development trajectories and the relationship between forest loss and children’s health in Cambodia. Related to (ii), I will present our work on the effectiveness of protected areas in Indonesia, analyses of why protected areas are lost, equity implications of payments for ecosystem services and the temporal ramifications of agricultural intensification on deforestation.

Our results point towards the possibility to reconcile wild nature and agriculture through the recognition of the value of ecosystem services and yield gap closures. However, they also warn about the potentially negative effects of current interventions through indirect land-use caused by telecouplings in global trade.

Tue 08 May 2018: 10.00am [PhD Defense] – Helen Nash on “The Ecology, Genetics and Conservation of Pangolins”

Image004PhD Defense Seminar cum Oral Examination
Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

“The Ecology, Genetics and Conservation of Pangolins”

Helen Catherine Nash
Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS
Tuesday 8th May 2018: 10.00am
At the DBS Conference Room (S3-05)
Supervisor: Asst Prof Rheindt, Frank Erwin

Abstract – Globally, pangolins are one of the most heavily trafficked mammals in the illegal trade of wildlife. Chinese and Sunda pangolins are particularly threatened and their populations have rapidly declined, yet research is lacking to inform effective conservation management and action plans for these species. In this PhD I have helped to build the evidence base for effective conservation action at local, regional and global scales, based on the research priorities stated in the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group’s global conservation action plan.

In Chapter One, I demonstrate the value of using large-scale systematic surveys of local ecological knowledge to understand the status and threats of pangolins, with the example of Chinese pangolins across protected areas in Hainan. In Chapter Two, I applied a large number of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to investigate the population genetic structure of Southeast Asian Sunda pangolins and to trace the origin of illegally traded pangolins. In Chapter Three, I initiated a post-release monitoring programme for rescued, rehabilitated and released Sunda pangolins in Singapore to better understand their post-release ecology and behaviour, with a particular focus on their dispersal movement, habitat selection and urban ecology in relation to their ontogenesis.

My doctoral research has contributed towards an evidence base to inform effective conservation management and action for pangolins. Many of my methods and analyses could also be applied to other endangered or cryptic species.

All are welcome

Mon 30 Apr 2018: 2.00pm [QE] – Choi Jihea on “Personality of Ooceraea biroi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dorylinae) and its effect on ant fitness”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Personality of Ooceraea biroi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dorylinae) and its effect on ant fitness

Speaker: Choi Jihea
(Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Monday, 30th April 2018: 2.00pm
At DBS Conference room (S3 Level 5)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Li Daiqin

Abstract – The field of animal personality has boomed in the last two decades, with current research interests focused on not only quantifying personality for each species, but also to investigate the evolutionary significance of personality.

Using the eusocial and thelytokous ants, Ooceraea biroi, my project aims to investigate the presence of personality in individuals and colonies of these clonal ants, and the impact of personality on individual and group fitness. Furthermore, the project will test whether colony personalities can be influenced by external stress, and test if the individual’s past foraging experiences can shape its personality and effect the expression of the foraging gene

All are welcome.

Wed 02 May 2018: 4.00pm [QE] – Darren Sim on “Phytoplankton-Regulation by Macrophytes in Tropical Lakes”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Phytoplankton-Regulation by Macrophytes in Tropical Lakes

Speaker:             Sim Zong Han Darren (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:                   2 May 2018, Wednesday
Time:                   4pm
Venue:                DBS Conference Room (S3 Level 5)
Supervisor:        Asst Prof Darren Yeo Chong Jinn

Abstract: – Ecological restoration can be a sustainable strategy to manage nuisance phytoplankton in Singapore reservoirs. Macrophytes are vital for restoring degraded lakes due to their involvement in ecological processes, especially their role in maintaining the clear water stable state in lakes. This is attributed to their ability to regulate phytoplankton communities through a combination of physical and biological mechanisms such as attenuation of wave energy, resource competition, and allelopathy. Allelopathy is suspected to be a major mechanism by which macrophytes inhibit phytoplankton, but current evidence supporting this is inconclusive. Present understanding of lake restoration is largely based on temperate studies, which may have limited transferability to the tropics due to trophic and climatic differences.

This study uses various approaches to investigate the ability of macrophytes to improve the ecological state of turbid tropical lakes. Field mesocosm experiments will be used to evaluate (i) the effects of macrophytes on phytoplankton communities and (ii) the potential restorative capability of macrophytes in a turbid reservoir. Lab experiments will be conducted to evaluate the importance of allelopathy as a mechanism to control phytoplankton and the role of light in influencing its effectiveness. Findings will not only improve our understanding of macrophyte-phytoplankton interactions, but also inform lake management decisions using macrophyte restoration as a sustainable tool to control phytoplankton blooms.

All are welcome