Newshub - NUS' News Portal

Of dinosaurs and environmental causes

26 April 2012

Prof Tan (right) and Mr Sadasivan sharing the stage with a fossilised Triceratops foot

Sharing the stage with a fossilised Triceratops foot and a femur of an Edmontosaurus, Prof Leo Tan kept the audience enthralled at the latest U@live forum on 26 April.

Pointing to the ancient fossils, the Director (Special Projects) at the NUS Department of Biological Sciences said: "What can we learn about dinosaurs? In most museums, dinosaurs are wow factors. However, the more important lesson we can learn from dinosaurs, which lived for 200 million years, is that these animals give us a clue to longevity. The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum starts with dinosaurs." He added that researchers in Singapore have already expressed interest in studying the dinosaur fossils.

On conservation in Singapore, the highly-respected conservationist and devoted teacher highlighted the distinctiveness of the island. "One of the uniqueness of Singapore is that we can develop an urban ecology. We can't develop the natural rural ecology - there are no hectares for that. But we can have micro-systems within this urban sprawling jungle. This is the beauty and the challenge to all of us," he said.

Citing the upcoming World Cities Summit 2012 to be held in Singapore, Prof Tan noted that Singapore's strength lies in building liveable space. This is evidenced by visitors from countries such as China, Germany and the United States who come to learn more about how things are done here in terms of building a sustainable city.

During a spirited Question and Answer session moderated by Mr Viswa Sadasivan, NUS alumnus and Chairman of the U@live organising committee, Prof Tan responded with deep insight to the many questions from an enthusiastic audience. These included the top tips to protect and conserve Singapore, and the relevance of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to modern Singapore.

Throughout a distinguished career in research, education and public service, Prof Tan has been a vocal advocate for the environment with many of his public policy initiatives helping to define Singapore's reputation as a Garden City. His previous appointments included Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Science Centre, Director of the National Institute of Education and Chairman of the National Parks Board.

U@live is a monthly event featuring outstanding members of the university community who have been indefatigable in championing causes that make a difference to the world. The forum, spearheaded by NUS alumni and the Office of Alumni Relations, is also webcast live to the student population on campus.