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The L’Oreal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowships was first established in 2009, and is organised by the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO and A*Star. It is a platform to not only to support scientific research, but also the young women who have taken this career path.

Many may not know that this is actually my 2nd application for this fellowship. My first attempt was in late 2013, upon graduation. I have to say (embarrassingly) that when I took out my older application for comparison, I hadn’t filled it up properly! Oh dear me! For this year, given the short two weeks timeline for submission, I had to put in plenty of effort to work up the forms. I spent alot of time reading online on how to write well for applications! The application process has been very enriching – having picked up a few more pointers on how to write a good research proposal, statement, and answering some tough questions!

I was overjoyed to find out that I am a finalist this year, and even more awesome – to now be awarded the prestigious Life Sciences fellowship! I’m also very proud to be the first awardee to represent Natural Sciences in the Life Sciences category for Singapore. πŸ™‚

I feel very blessed with this fellowship as it couldn’t have come any sooner, given that I have plans to further my research overseas (and was still searching for funding support). This fellowship allows awardees to use it in whatever way they choose to, and for me, it will support my marine adventures abroad! πŸ™‚ I really can’t wait to go meet my non-human friends (giant clams lah!) outside Singapore. Excited for what is to come in the new year!

Here is the excerpt of my acceptance speech, and to give thanks for their utmost support and encouragements in my research journey…

Thank You Speech:

Good evening guests, I am very honored to be here tonight, and to be a winner of this prestigious award.

To the esteemed jury, I am proud to be a finalist, and thankful for the opportunity to meet with all, and to share my research on biodiversity conservation. Thank you.

In this research journey, I have many people to thank: colleagues of DBS and TMSI, where I first started my research, fellow friends and particularly my advisors.

Dr Peter Todd – for his first instincts to take me up as his student based on my handicraft skills (which by the way was very useful when building experiments. Thank you for your listening ear, guidance and mentorship).

Dr Serena Teo – for always encouraging me to chase my big dreams to do marine conservation, and the opportunities to reach out to the public on marine conservation issues.

Last but not least, my family. My mother who always believed in my dreams, and asked me to be happy in whatever I do. Not forgetting my biggest supporter, Alex – my best friend, companion and husband. You are my source of inspiration. Thanks to you, this is the beginning of more marine adventures to come forth. Thank you.

Personal thoughts: Most of us would agree that the life of a research fellow consists of writing (tonnes) of research proposals seeking for funding to support your research and endeavours. At some point in time, it can get a little weary chasing papers – and I mean publications and grant proposals. I’m at that phase now – there are ups and downs, and sometimes your mind just wanders off thinking of other career options. I get that feeling sometimes…

But my fellow friends out there (and especially aspiring young female researchers!), as cliche as it sounds, don’t give up is key to chasing your big dreams in research. And that each and everyone of you is important to contributing to scientific advancement. Pick yourself up, and tell yourself to hang in there and something will come along! It’s not an easy to follow advice, but that’s where your colleagues and supervisors come in to cheer you on! They’ve been through it, and they know where you are now! πŸ™‚ All the best!

Media release:

26 Nov 2015 – PINPOINTPR

27 Nov 2015 – (Borrowed photos 2,3,11 in slideshow)

1 Dec 2015 – Asian Scientist