RSI Projects 2013

Please apply for projects online using this form:
The deadline for application is 17th May 2013.

Code: B006
TitleSpatial 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

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

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) and Dr Tse-Lynn Loh (Shedd Aquarium, Chicago)

Pre-requisites: Interest in biodiversity, able to take initiative and work independently. Have good social skills.


Code: P001
Title: Photonics – Investigation of sol-gel thin films to produce optical waveguides with high refractive index

Synopsis: The sol-gel technique presents a simple, low temperature method to produce optical waveguides that has properties such as homogeneity, porosity and film thickness that can be easily tailored to suit various applications. Such sol-gel thin films allow materials with high refractive indices to be fabricated. Spin-coating will be used in this project to exploit the low-cost, low temperature and low pressure advantages of such a process.
Students will get to learn polymer science, advanced optics topics, and understand the working principles as well as the analysis of data from common characterisation equipment such as FTIR or XRD. Students will get an opportunity to experience first-hand how scientists in the semiconductor physics field work inside a cleanroom.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian

Pre-requisites: Interest in advanced optics topics and polymer science.


Code: T001
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.

Principal Investigator: Dr Tan Guoxian (RSI) & Health Science Authority

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


Code: C001
Title: Analytical Chemistry – Microextration methods in food matrix or water analysis

Synopsis: To use methods such as HF-SDME or DLLME, commonly used in micro analytical chemistry to investigate water matrix or food matrix. Students are free to propose what they want to investigate with micro extraction methods option of HPLC (in school) or GC (NUS).

Focus will be optimising parameters to be used in this relatively new field of micro analysis.

Principal Investigator: Ms June Hong (RSI) & Prof Lee Hian Kee (NUS)

Pre-requisites: Strong interest in analytical chemistry, with ability to work independently, fortitude and curiosity in the chosen project.

Option of maximum of 3 to a group or working individually as a H3 module.


Code: P002
Title: Glass forming ability in binary Zr-Cu alloy system

Synopsis: Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) are a new class of engineering materials with interesting combination of properties that offer numerous potential applications. This is a fundamental study of the glass forming ability (GFA) of alloys in a simple binary Zr-Cu alloy system and its microstructure evolution.

Principal Investigator: Dr Grace Lim (RSI) & Prof Li Yi (NUS)

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


Code: P003
Title: Nano TiO2 particles coating on polypropylene separators 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.

Principal Investigator: Dr Grace Lim (RSI) & A/P Wang Qing (NUS)

Pre-requisites: a) Interested in materials science; b) Creative, committed and able to work independently.


Code: E001
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.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI), Dr Grace Lim (RSI) & Dr Joshi Umid (SDWA)

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


Code: B001
Title: Current and historical distribution of palms in Singapore

Synopsis: This projects aims to list, map and determine the species of palms that have ever existed in Singapore by studying herbarium specimens in Singapore Botanic Gardens, mapping palms on the Singapore map using historical data from herbarium specimens as well as through fieldtrips to study the current distribution of palms in the nature reserves. This thorough investigation will give us a clearer understanding of the actual number of Singapore palm species, their distribution and how habitat loss has affected species numbers over a century and more.

Principal Investigator: Dr Adrian Loo (RSI)

Pre-requisites: Students need to be able to commit to this project for 6 months starting from June. A bulk of the work will be done during the June holidays


Code: B002
Title: Marine biology – Symbiotic algae in corals, implications for climate change?

Synopsis: Although corals are capable of obtaining food on their own, their survival and growth has been shown to depend largely on the nutrition derived from their unicellular algal symbiont, zooxanthellae. It has been found that different species of hard corals can host different clades of zooxanthellae and in this study, you will be required to identify the zooxanthellae using molecular methods. Methods used include using a denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (don’t worry, training will be provided). All these would have implications for coral growth in the changing climate system. These projects are done in collaboration with Marine Biology Laboratory and/or Tropical Marine Science Institute of the National University of Singapore.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Ms Jani Tanzil (SMART)

Pre-requisites: Committed and independent students only. Must have an interest in biodiversity and conservation.
You will be selected individually and may be paired up with another student.


Code: B003
Title: A comparative study of plant galls and their etiological agents found in Singapore forests and parklands

Synopsis: Plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues and can be caused by various agents, from bacteria, parasitic plants, fungi, mites to insects such as thrips, midges, jumping plant lice (psyllids), lepidopterans and wasps. The galls are highly organized structures which come in an astounding array of colours, shapes and sizes, which can often be correlated with the etiological agent. This study will investigate the relationships among the host, gall type and etiological agent.

Principal Investigator: Dr Abigayle Ng (RSI) & Dr Jeffrey Lee (RSI)

Pre-requisites: Students with a strong interest in plant sciences and molecular methods. Students must be able to work independently (i.e. without constant supervision).


Code: B004
Title: Bioinformatics of infectious disease – Bioinformatics of proteins in inflammatory responses during Chikungunya virus infection.

Synopsis: Cross reactivity antibodies during chikungunya virus infection triggers severe inflammatory responses of the human host and resulting in severe joint pains. In this study, we will be investigating the role of cross reactivity antibodies generated during chikungunya virus infection against human cellular proteins via a combination of bioinformatic analysis and literature review. This study will bring new insights to the immunopathogenesis of chikungunya virus infection.

Principal Investigator: Mr Ngan Wei Yeong (RSI) & Dr J Chu (NUS)

Pre-requisites: 1. Students must travel daily to NUS 830 am- 5 pm, 3-21 June for main data analysis; 2. Project focusses on bioinformatics and analysis of computational information.


Code: E002
Title: Contaminant analysis – Rapid Screening of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) in Water

Synopsis: Pharmaceuticals and personal care products are increasingly detected in many water systems. They possess a threat to marine aquatic organisms and human health. Known as Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC). they can be detected and analysed using advanced mass spectrometric techniques. In this project, we will fine-tune new biochemical screening techniques to test the CECs in surface water.

Principal Investigator: Mr Ngan Wei Yeong (RSI) & Dr Lim Tien Tze (PUB)

Pre-requisites: 1. Students will be required to work in Jurong East’s Waterhub lab 8.30 am-5.00 pm, 3 to 21 June; 2. Students should have an interest in biochemical analysis.

Code: B005
Title: Bioengineering – Rapid diagnosis of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency using portable NMR

Synopsis: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is a ubiquitous enzyme that plays a central role in the support of cellular redox processes. G6PD deficiency (G6PDD) is a very common X-linked recessive genetic disorder affecting approximately 400 million people worldwide. It results in an impaired ability of red blood cells (RBCs) to deal with oxidative stress, which often leads to their lysis (haemolysis) after exposure to certain foods, infectious microorganisms, or medications. In Singapore, every new-born child is screened for G6PDD. However the methods used are usually antiquated, with poor sensitivity and an inability to measure the extent of the mutant phenotype in heterozygous females. Although heterozygous individuals may remain asymptomatic despite expressing lower levels of the enzyme, they are still at high risk for acute haemolytic attacks. The laboratory has been developing a novel portable Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) device to rapidly and reliably detect G6PDD from human blood samples. The NMR method in development measures the Fe2+: Fe3+ ratio in red blood cells (RBCs) as an indicator of the G6PD levels. Since RBCs from G6PDD patients are less capable of dealing with oxidative stress, most of the iron will thus be in the higher 3+ oxidation state. The aim of this project is to optimise the application of the miniaturized NMR device to rapidly detect oxidative stress in the RBCs, and hence aid in the diagnosis of G6PDD. Students would be expected to focus on developing a simple microfluidic chip to be used together with the NMR system. We will expose students to using their physical and engineering knowledge in designing a microfluidic chip and validate with computational works.

Research work will be done at SMART-BioSyM laboratory located in the NUS campus. No work on blood or human tissues is involved.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Peng Weng Kun (SMART-BioSyM), Dr. Bruce Malcolm Russell (NUS), Dr. Lee Zhiying (RSI)

Pre-requisites: Dedicated and committed to research work
Strong enthusiasm. Preferably strong in Mathematics or Physics

Please apply for projects online using this form:
The deadline for application is 17th May 2013.
You will be contacted via email to schedule an interview date and time (in week 9 or 10)

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