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Researchers honoured at President’s Science and Technology Awards

26 Sep 2013

Prof Halliwell receiving the President’s Science and Technology Medal from President Tan
Photo: A*STAR

The NUS award winners: (from left) Dr Khor, Asst Prof Qiu, Prof Halliwell and Prof Yu
Four NUS researchers have been recognised for their exceptional work at this year’s President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) – Singapore’s top honours granted to illustrious individuals and teams for their achievements in science and technology, and their contributions to research and development in Singapore. The winners received their awards from Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam at a ceremony held on 25 September 2013.

Commending the winners, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Chairman of the PSTA Main Selection Committee, Mrs Ow Foong Pheng said: “The quality of research demonstrated by all the candidates was of a very high standard. What set the award winners apart was not only the excellent science they did but also the ability to translate their research into societal and economic benefits.”

Professor Barry Halliwell, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor, was presented with the President’s Science and Technology Medal, which is the highest of honours among the awards, for his outstanding contributions to the development of the research landscape in Singapore and his excellent research on the role of free radicals and antioxidants in human health, nutrition and disease.

Prof Halliwell helms the University’s research agenda, promoting a broad base of high-impact research from which several peaks of excellence have been achieved. NUS is now highly ranked for its research achievements in numerous areas relevant to Singapore, from Asian studies to membrane technologies and cancer biology. The University’s competitive research grant income has tripled since his tenure, and he has also steered the development of an effective research policy framework which helped NUS researchers establish three of Singapore’s Research Centres of Excellence.

Prof Halliwell also worked closely with other agencies and industry to develop new research initiatives in Singapore, including ageing, clean energy, sustainability and interactive digital media. He was the driving force behind the highly visible NUS Virtual Institute for the Study of Ageing.

“I am honoured and humbled to receive this award. The research excellence that has been achieved at NUS and in Singapore generally has only been possible through a team effort of many people, of which I am but a small part,” said Prof Halliwell, who has become one of the world’s most highly cited researchers in the areas of Biology & Biochemistry, Neuroscience & Behaviour and Pharmacology & Toxicology.

Professor Yu Hao of the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science received the President’s Science Award for his breakthrough discoveries in plant genomics and their biotechnological applications to increase crop yield and promote food security.

Assistant Professor Qiu Cheng Wei of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering won the Young Scientist Award for his research on complex light-matter interaction and optical micromanipulation, as well as their applications. The award, given to promising research scientists and engineers aged 35 years and below, was also presented to Dr Khor Chiea Chuen of the Genome Institute of Singapore, who holds a joint appointment at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in NUS, and is an Assistant Professor at the University’s Departments of Ophthalmology and Paediatrics. Dr Khor was recognised for his research on genetics and heredity.