A*STAR Release: 137 Young Aspiring Scientists Awarded Scholarships to Pursue Their Scientific Careers in Singapore

Published: Jul 16, 2013

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1. A*STAR’s Scholarship Award Ceremony today saw 137 scholarships and fellowships being awarded for studies leading to a PhD or postdoctoral training. The awards were presented to the scholars and fellows by Mr S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade & Industry.

2. Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR, said, “The research, innovation and enterprise system in Singapore has grown significantly over the years and continues to evolve. For the system to be competitive, sustainable and robust, we require a talent strategy that develops a strong core of Singaporean scientists to be complemented by a rich diversity of international researchers. Through our scholarships, A*STAR is committed to supporting deserving young talent from diverse educational backgrounds to enable them to pursue their interest in science and to contribute to Singapore’s knowledge-based innovation-driven economy.”

3. Since 2001, A*STAR’s scholarship programme has nurtured a pipeline of over 1,200 Singaporean PhD talent. Over 350 scholars have completed their PhD studies or postdoctoral fellowships, and have leveraged on their research expertise to pursue a variety of rewarding R&D careers in public sector research institutes, corporate labs, tertiary institutions, hospitals as well as industry.

Advancing Science and Industry

4. Benjamin Toh is one such scholar whose research has paved the way for him to work on industry collaborations at the research institute in which he is currently working. Benjamin completed his PhD at A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), where he worked on basic research on infectious diseases. This gave him the opportunity to lead a collaborative project between SIgN and Debiopharm – a Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical company. He is also concurrently leading a translational collaborative project between SIgN and Servier – a French-based pharmaceutical company – to develop anti-cancer drugs for breast cancer.

5. A*STAR scholars also carry on their legacy by imparting their knowledge and research expertise to other young and aspiring talent. Karen Crasta is one of A*STAR’s International Fellows who has recently been awarded a NRF Fellowship which provides her with research funding support over five years to perform cutting edge research in oncology. As an Assistant Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU, Karen is now working on academic collaborations with clinicians and scientists, and hopes to instill passion in other local young and aspiring clinician-scientists.

6. Seah Kwang Hwee is a scholar who has ventured into patent examination and is now with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). Recognised by international surveys as one of the best IP regimes in the world, Singapore has attracted many multinational companies such as P&G and Nestle to relocate their R&D operations here.Kwang Hwee’s postdoctoral experience at A*STAR’s I2R has not only won him a place in the pioneer cohort of Singapore patent examiners at IPOS, it has also allowed him to play an integral role in shaping the nation’s R&D future by contributing to its strong IP regime. His work as a patent examiner is dynamic and diverse, seeing him handling applications from various technical fields ranging from bio-medical devices to image processing, allowing his PhD level expertise to be leveraged upon. A*STAR scholarships attract young and aspiring scientists from varied educational backgrounds 7. This year, A*STAR welcomed an outstanding crop of young Singaporeans from different educational pathways, including the Junior Colleges, Polytechnics, as well as local and overseas universities. Amongst the new award recipients is Ms Stephanie Tay, who has taken on an unconventional academic pathway to the A*STAR scholarship. Her keen interest in Biology inspired her to undergo a research attachment at A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) as part of the A*STAR Science Award (Polytechnic). Prior to pursuing her tertiary studies at Republic Polytechnic, she had completed a higher NITEC at ITE.

8. Said Stephanie, “When an idea is generated into theory and then performed practically, showing positive results which are reproducible, the immense satisfaction ignites my passion for Science and this is what motivates me to continue down the path of research.” As an A*STAR Undergraduate Scholarship awardee, Stephanie hopes to delve deeper into Microbiology and its applications to Green Technology, and will start on her path towards a research career by pursuing her undergraduate studies at NTU.

9. Other Singaporeans living abroad are also able to stay in touch with the R&D developments in Singapore. Launched in 2012, the Research Attachment for Overseas Singaporeans is one of a suite of talent development programmes at A*STAR that provides the opportunity for Singaporeans studying abroad to experience the thriving R&D environment back in Singapore.

10. Jeremy Wong is one such young Singaporean based overseas who is attracted to the vibrant R&D ecosystem in Singapore. Jeremy returned to Singapore for research attachments during his undergraduate studies whenever he had the opportunity to do so, carrying out research projects at A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and the Centre for Quantum Technologies. He returned to work at A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) after his graduation in 2011, and is now taking on the National Science Scholarship (PhD) to further his post-graduate studies.

11. Said Jeremy, “A*STAR is a great place to work in, with wonderful prospects, vast resources and diverse expertise. The A*STAR scholarship provides the opportunity to further my studies, and progress on to a career in scientific research. Through this, I hope to learn what I can and work toward my ambition of advancing the world's technology.”

12. A*STAR would like to extend its heartfelt congratulations to this year’s awardees. We wish all our new and deployed scholars every success in their careers, and hope that they continue to seize the opportunities presented to them to broaden their perspectives, build new networks and cultivate an inquisitive mind.


ANNEX A – A*STAR scholarship programmes and other programmes

For media queries and clarifications, please contact:

Vithya Selvam (Ms)

Senior Officer, Corporate Communications

Agency for Science, Technology and Research

Tel: (+65) 6826 6291

Email: vithya_selvam@a-star.edu.sg

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.

In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.

A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.



A*STAR Scholarship Programmes

1. The National Science Scholarship (NSS) allows scholars to receive the best education and training at top universities and laboratories all over the world. The NSS scheme allows A*STAR to capture a share of top local talent and sustains a pipeline for potential local scientific leaders. Support is provided for BSc, PhD, MBBS-PhD and MD-PhD programmes. NSS scholars are required to fulfill a service commitment of 4-6 years. A*STAR has opened up multiple career pathways for scholars to contribute in A*STAR, as well as in industry, academia and other public sector organisations.

2. The A*STAR Undergraduate Scholarship (AUS) supports scholars for undergraduate education at local universities, as well as research attachments at A*STAR and overseas exchange programme during their undergraduate studies. AUS admits scholars immediately after high school or polytechnic, as well as during undergraduate years. There is no service commitment to A*STAR but AUS scholars must undertake a PhD programme which may be supported through PhD scholarships from A*STAR, local or overseas universities.

3. The A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS) offers 4 years of PhD training for scholars in Singapore (at NUS, NTU or A*STAR) or 4 years of PhD training split over an overseas partner university and A*STAR labs. AGS scholars who graduate from NTU or NUS may also be extended a 2-year AGS (Post Doctoral Fellowship) at an international lab. The service commitment for AGS scholars is up to 3 years. The AGS scheme contributes towards building a critical mass of Singaporean PhD talent to anchor R&D capabilities.

4. The A*STAR International Fellowship (AIF) supports recent PhD graduates to undertake post-doctoral training in top universities and private sector labs overseas. The AIF allows A*STAR to retain in Singapore promising young Singaporean PhD talent after gaining post-doctoral experience overseas. Upon completion of their postdoctoral training, these Fellows will return for their 1 year service commitment and contribute to the research community in Singapore.

A*STAR Science Award (Polytechnic)

5. A*STAR Science Award (Polytechnic) enables Singaporean polytechnic students in science and engineering courses to explore their interest in research through internships and/or final year projects at A*STAR research institutes. The award complements the A*STAR Science Awards for Upper Secondary and Junior College students in encouraging young Singaporean talent to further their education in science and engineering and to consider A*STAR scholarships and R&D careers.

Research Attachments for Overseas Singaporeans

6. Research Attachments for Overseas Singaporeans (RAOS) enable Singaporean students studying overseas to gain exposure to the research work carried out within A*STAR RIs, and to consider PhD studies under A*STAR scholarships or research careers within A*STAR. RAOS will also allow overseas Singaporeans to better understand the R&D environment in Singapore as well as build up contacts and linkages within A*STAR RIs and in the Singapore research community.

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