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Honoured for excellent work in R&D.

662 words
1 September 2000
Straits Times
(c) 2000 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

The 11 winners were selected from 77 applicants by a panel made up of their peers in the research community.

AN EXPERT in deadly snake venom and a researcher poised to be ""one of the leading mathematicians" of this century are among 11 research scientists and engineers who will be honoured at the Oscars of the local research-and-development (R&D) community tonight.

The mathematician, Associate Professor Sun Yeneng, is among six who will be presented the National Science and Technology Awards (NSTA).

Professor P. Gopalakrishnakone and his team of three from the National University of Singapore will be presented the Ministerial Citation for their research work in snake and other toxins.

An 11th individual will get the Young Scientist Award, organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science, and supported by the National Science and Technology Board (NSTB).

Said one of the winners, Associate Professor Lee Sing Kong, the dean of graduate programmes and research at the National Institute of Education, NTU: ""It's recognition for me from my peers but, more importantly, it's also recognition for my institute and my university."

The researchers will be honoured for their excellence in various areas of R&D, ranging from helping to put in place R&D infrastructure, to ground-breaking work in the field of aeroponics (growing crops suspended in air) and mathematics.

Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan will be giving out the awards at tonight's TechMonth Awards Presentation Dinner.

Dr Tan will also launch TechMonth 2000 at the dinner, a series of events aimed at promoting science and technology to Singaporeans.

Mrs Lee Ying Adams, the assistant managing director (operations) of the NSTB, said that the winners were picked from 77 applications by a judging panel comprising their peers in the research community.

She said: ""Since the awards were started in 1987, there has been tremendous improvement in the quality of the research work."

The NSTA are made up of three categories, namely, the National Science and Technology Medal (NSTM), the National Technology Award (NTA), and the National Science Award (NSA).

The NSTM recognises distinguished individuals for contributing to Singapore's overall growth and development through the promotion and management of R&D.

Of the other two awards, the NTA is aimed at encouraging researchers to apply technology in industrial processes.

The NSA accords recognition to outstanding work in basic researchthat may lead to important discoveries or pioneering scientific or engineering techniques.

Pioneering work

Associate Professor Lee Sing Kong, 48, dean of graduate programmes and research. National Institute of Education, NTU, for his work on developing aeroponic agriculture.

Said the citation: ""The results of Dr Lee's pioneering work led to the establishment of the aeroponic technology which can be adapted for a wide range of commercial agricultural and horticultural activities."

Prof Lee said: ""Aeroponics is nothing new, but what we've done is to perfect the integration of all the parameters, such as the duration of misting, the frequency of misting... and even the temperature.

""Basically, we've found the perfect recipe to grow beautiful salad greens, even in a hot climate like Singapore's."

Other winners

THE National Technology Award will also be presented to a three-man team from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), for their commercialisation of a process in producing films used to coat products such as sunglasses, hip implants and CDs. They are:

* Dr Shi Xu, chief executive of an NTU spin-off company;

* Professor Tan Hong Siang, NTU's director of research, and;

* Associate Professor Tay Beng Keng, of the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The Ministerial Citation will be awarded to four researchers from the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Medicine for their work on developing a drug that inhibits the toxicity of snake venom. They are:

* Professor P. Gopalakrishnakone;

* Dr Maung Maung Thwin;

* Associate Professor Kandiah Jeyaseelan; and

* Dr Arunmozhiarasi Armugam.

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