Research projects offered in 2014

Please apply for projects online using this form: http://tinyurl.com/rsiproject2014
The deadline for application is 5th May 2014.

Code: E001
Title: Investigation of xylem end-plates of native trees through the use of 3D printed models

Synopsis:  The type of perforations of the end plates in the xylem vessels of plants is thought to be an evolutionary trade-off between decreasing flow resistance and providing mechanical support against tube implosion. This project concentrates on the relationship between end-plate pattern and flow resistance. 3D printing technologies will be used to recreate xylem end-plates of native trees. Students are expected to chemically macerate xylem tissue and take image slices of the xylem end-plates in selected native plants. Students will be taught how to construct 3D models of the end plates, and print them out using a 3D printer. Experiments on flow resistance will be conducted on the 3D printed models of the xylem vessels to analyse the effect of different end-plate patterns on water flow. Results may shed light on the hydraulic adaptations of native trees to their habitat, and potentially provide ideas for the design of man-made tube delivery systems.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian; Dr Jeffrey Lee

Pre-requisites: Nil

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Code: T001
Title: Mobile Healthcare Sensor System

Synopsis: Sensors contained in mobile phones are ubiquitous and provide convenience for many. Such sensors can be applied to patients who require physiotherapy, in the comfort of their own home. This effectively removes difficulties and constraints in travelling to hospice or medical facilities.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian

Pre-requisites: basic programming skills, interest in signal processing or playing with android phones

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Code: P001
Title: Physics – 3D printing of mobile phone casings for protection

Synopsis: 3D printing presents an unique disruptive technology that will eventually be as common as your current 2D printer at home or in the office. This project looks at designing your own handphone casing that is waterproof, shockproof and even scratchproof, using a 3D printer.
Physical tests such as impact testing and hardness testing, will have to be experimentally designed and carried out.
More details can be found at http://www.otterbox.com

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian (RSI)

Pre-requisites: Nil

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Code: P002
Title: A study of anti-microbial properties of ternary Zr-based bulk metallic glasses

Synopsis: Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) are a new class of engineering materials with interesting combination of properties that offer numerous potential applications. This project involves the synthesis of ternary Zr-based bulk metallic glasses with good glass forming abilities. The anti-microbial properties of ternary Zr-based BMGs in relationship with their glass forming ability and respective microstructures are then characterised.

Looking for 1 to 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Grace Lim (RSI), Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Prof Li Yi (NUS, Dept of Materials Science and Engineering)

Pre-requisites: a) A strong interest in materials science; b) strong in all 3 sciences and c) committed individuals who are able to take initiative and work independently

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Code: P003
Title: Inorganic oxide coatings on polypropylene separator films for lithium ion batteries

Synopsis: Rechargeable lithium ion batteries (LIB) are one of the most important and suitable power sources for portable electronics due to their light weight and high charge density. However, many are concerned about the safety of LIB as more cases of exploding batteries have been reported. This project aims to synthesize a new composite separator and characterize its thermal stability properties.

Looking for 1 to 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Grace Lim (RSI) & A/Prof Wang Qing (NUS, Dept of Materials Science and Engineering)

Pre-requisites: a) An interest in materials science; b) Committed individuals who are able to take initiative and work independently.

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Code: B001
Title: Spatial distribution of Hippocampus kuda and H. comes in Singapore

Synopsis: Two species of seahorses have been observed off the islands and coastline of Singapore- the yellow seahorse Hippocampus kuda and the tiger-tailed seahorse H. comes. From anecdotal reports, H. kuda is thought to be an estuarine species while H. comes has only been found on coral reefs in Singapore. This project would assess if the two seahorse species in Singapore demonstrates habitat diversification. Habitat data will be collected through a combination of fieldwork and meta-data extraction from seahorse photographs shot in Singapore that are available online. The student will learn how to identify the common seahorse species found in Southeast Asia, confirm seahorse sightings in Singapore, and report all seahorse sightings to http://www.iSeahorse.org.

No work on live or dead seahorses is involved. Looking for 2 – 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Dr Tse-Lynn Loh (Shedd Aquarium)

Pre-requisites: a) Interest in biodiversity; b) able to take initiative and work independently; c) have good social skills.

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Code: B002
Title: Population genetics of Hippocampus kuda and H. comes

Synopsis: This project would assess the genetic diversity of seahorses in Vietnam. Because seahorses are hypothesized to have limited dispersal abilities, seahorse populations may be highly structured and genetically distinct within small biogeographic regions. In this study, students will learn how to extract seahorse DNA, determine the best sequences to use in this study, and run population genetics analyses. All seahorse genetic sequences will be uploaded to GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/). The data from this study can help uncover the resolution at which population genetic studies can be used to determine the sources of seahorses found in trade and possibly aid in the conservation of seahorses in South East Asia.

Looking for 2 – 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Dr Tse-Lynn Loh (Shedd Aquarium)

Pre-requisites: a) Interest in molecular evolution and conservation; b) must be committed and able to work independently.

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Code: E002
Title: Green roof runoffs: a water quality study

Synopsis: Low impact developments such as green roofs have great potential and application not only in reducing urban heat islands, enhancing biodiversity and aesthetic appeal but also stormwater management. However, green roofs may become contributors of pollution from soil, plants and fertilizers. This project aims to evaluate the differences in water quality for different substrate-based green roofs during short-term rain events of varying intensities to optimize and improve green roof systems in Singapore.

Field work for the project will be conducted at Van Kleef Centre at Ulu Pandan.

Looking for 2 – 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Grace Lim & Dr Abigayle Ng

Pre-requisites: a) Independent and committed to the project; b) willing to commute to field station at Ulu Pandan for field work purposes; c) strong interest in environmental sciences.

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Code: B003
Title: Molecular evolution of wild Ixora

Synopsis: This study aims to use molecular methods to examine the evolution of wild Ixora in Singapore.

Looking for 2 – 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Dr Adrian Loo (Gardens by the Bay)

Pre-requisites: Committed and independent students interested in botany and molecular evolution

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Code: T002
Title: Pattern Recognition – Adhesive Tape Recognition

Synopsis: This project focuses on the development of a semi-automated image processing method, which provides an efficient and accurate method of adhesive tape recognition, which is important in helping forensic scientists deduce results rapidly and accurately. The project method relies heavily on image recognition techniques to accurately identify key features and quantify visually imperceptible differences in images, allowing for accurate classification of images.

Students will learn first-hand how forensic scientists are constantly being creative and innovative to integrate info-comm technology into stopping crime.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian

Pre-requisites: Familiarity in any programming skills such as C++, Java, Python or Matlab.

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Code: T003
Title: Dengue Fever Prediction System

Synopsis: Use machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to predict the next dengue fever hotspot in Singapore.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian

Pre-requisites: Familiarity in any programming skills such as C++, Java, Python or Matlab.

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Code: T004
Title: Gesture recognition system using Android smartphones

Synopsis: Similar to a Nintendo Wii system, smartphones can be used to recognise motion and gestures based on the built-in sensors. The clever exploitation of multiple sensors contained in smartphones allows users to perform complex tasks without the need for additional external sensors that may be bulky. This project aims to equip students with knowledge on signal processing and sensor fusion to invent and create a working prototype of a mobile gesture recognition system.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian

Pre-requisites: Experience with any programming skills such as Adruino, C++, Java, Python or Matlab is not compulsory, but an advantage.

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Code: B004
Title: Pathogenesis of infectious disease

Synopsis: TWhat is the role of viral proteins in causing infectious diseases like dengue fever and chikungunya disease? What are the important physical and chemical characteristics of the proteins eg: similarity of conformation to human proteins, presence of structures that elude the immune system? This project analyses the database of amino acid sequences of viruses and/or a review of the current scientific publications regarding how viral proteins interact with the human immune system.

Looking for 2 students.

Principal Investigator: Mr Ngan WY (RSI) & NUS (Department of Microbiology)

Pre-requisites: a) Must be available 3 weeks during the December holidays, from around 24/11 to 12/12/2014; b) Project focusses mostly on data analysis and scientific literature review. Students must be interested in computer data analytical tools and/or review of scientific journals. Labwork will be very limited.

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Code: B005
Title: Water Quality analysis

Synopsis: Chemical compounds that contaminate our water supplies are often present in trace amounts, making water analysis challenging. Detection and analytical tools must therefore race ahead in terms of sensitivity and precision. The project looks into refining techniques to examine water quality more efficiently.

Looking for 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Mr Ngan WY (RSI) & PUB

Pre-requisites: a) students must be able to work 3 weeks, 8 am to 5 pm. The labwork will be conducted during June holidays from 2/6 to 21/6/2014. Lab work will be done at the Jurong East laboratory; b) strong interest in chemistry preferred.

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Code: B006
Title: Medicine and Health Sciences – A study of haemoglobin denaturation using Magnetic Resonance Relaxometry and Molecular Dynamics Simulation

Synopsis: Magnetic resonance technology, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy are non-invasive techniques for medical imaging and biomedical structural studies. However, the need of a superconducting magnet to achieve higher resolution and accuracy for analysis of molecules like protein has resulted in bulky and importable equipment. Thus low-field MR technology has a wider use in clinical diagnosis due to its portability. This project provides students with a very precious opportunity to have a better understanding of how the MR technology is applied to early detection of diseases e.g. diabetes and G6PD-deficiency. In particular, pathological changes to red blood cells’ haemoglobin has been linked to several diseases such as alpha- and beta-thalassemia, and the MR technology can be used to assess patient’s blood. This project seeks to examine one form of this pathology, which is the effect of pH on inducing protein-unfolding in haemoglobin that will lead to denaturation, using sheep red blood cells as the experimental model. The first phase of this project will involve using the SDS-PAGE method to study the process of pH-induced haemoglobin protein degradation, as well as examine its corresponding magnetic resonance relaxometry (MRR) signal. The second phase of the project will involve a computational study of pH-induced haemoglobin denaturation, in which the molecular dynamics simulation technique will be applied to provide detailed information on the fluctuations and conformational changes of the haemoglobin protein. A third possible direction of this project is to examine how the knowledge from microfluidics, a multidisciplinary field dealing with the behaviour, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimetre scale, can be exploited to separate and enrich fractions of denatured haemoglobin from the normal protein. It is hypothesized that protein-unfolding will affect the size/density of haemoglobin, which can then be purified using microfluidic devices.

Looking for 2 to 3 students.

Principal Investigator: Dr Peng Weng Kung (SMART, BioSyM), Dr Liang Dai (SMART, BioSyM) & Dr Lee Zhiying (RSI)

Pre-requisites: a) Strong in Chemistry and Physics, and preferably with biology background (at least secondary level); b) Dedicated and committed to research work; c) Strong enthusiasm; d) Vaccinated against hepatitis B virus

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Please apply for projects online using this form: http://tinyurl.com/rsiproject2014
The deadline for application is 17th May 2013. Only shortlisted candidates will be notified via email for an interview.

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