Field work – Counting sea urchins on the seashores of Singapore

Together with my supervisor, Dr Serena TEO, we were awarded a grant from the Marine Science R&D Programme, supported by the National Research Foundation to conduct studies and develop tropical model marine organisms for experimental research.

On top of marine science experiments, marine animals are also increasingly being used as model organisms in multi-disciplinary studies such as evolution, developmental biology, biomedical sciences, biomimetics, and biophysical engineering. Current examples of model marine organisms include the tunicate (or ascidians), sea urchins, and marine snails.

In Singapore’s context, with so few habitats and sea space, experimental research is challenging as every field collection becomes a threat to natural populations. Hence, the other motivation of this project is to reduce collection pressures on wild populations by establishing culture protocols and stocks of local species, so that they may be readily available for experimental research. As a start, we are focussing on three groups of marine invertebrates: ascidians, tubeworms, and sea urchins. And I’m taking charge of the sea urchin component! 🙂

So you’re wondering now, how does counting sea urchins on the seashores help us in our project?

How many sea urchins can you spot? Photo credits: Lynette YING.

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Field work – Bachok Marine Research Station (11-16 June 2017)

First and foremost, thank you to my collaborators, Professor LIM Po Teen, Dr LEAW Chui Pin, and Professor Aileen TAN, as well as the Malaysia Marine Park for supporting our field research to survey the giant clam populations in the Perhentian Islands, Terengganu! Also, thanks to L’Oréal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowship for supporting my research! 🙂

Field sampling for giant clam tissues to examine the population genetic structure in Perhentian Islands. Credits: Lim Zhen Fei.

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TEDxSingapore Salon Event

TEDxSingapore Salon Event – 20 May 2017. Credits: TEDxSingapore FaceBook page.

Throwback to TEDxSingapore Salon Event last month at Collision 8! It was their first ever live broadcast via FaceBook Live! In this interview, I shared my first time experience at TED2017, my journey as a TED Fellow, and my work life as a marine biologist. You can catch my interview with Gillian (TEDxSingapore curator) by clicking on the video below! 🙂

Post-TED gratitude – It’s ‘not’ a Clamity!

Speaking at TED in Vancouver, Canada (April 2017). Photo by Ryan Lash / TED.

It’s been almost 20 days since I had stood on the TED stage and gave one of my best talks so far (I kid you not!). Now that I have given my talk, I had spent the last 20 days thinking about my experience as a TED Fellow in the programme, and how meeting other Fellows has helped me figure out some things in my life.

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Conservation of Giant Clams – Part 4

Today’s the DAY! And by the time you read this post, I should be getting ready to give my TED talk at the conference! 😀 In my 5-minute comprehensive TED talk, my idea worth sharing is that giant clams are ecologically important to coral reefs, and we need to save them! For my final part, I will describe the numerous Ecological Roles that giant clams play on the coral reefs, and why we should care about conserving them!


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Conservation of Giant Clams – Part 2

Phew! Time seems to have flown by more quickly, and I finally have some quiet time to write the second part of my conservation of giant clams post series… My days are now split into two halves: my day job as a researcher and my ‘night’ job as a TED Fellow – hahaha! So here we are, and today’s topic is Population Genetics.

American Museum of Natural History

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Scientists communicating science


As I begin to prepare for my TED talk (more fervently now as the I count down to the conference!), I chanced upon a science communications talk organised by the NUSLibraries. It was part of a series of workshop called Researcher Unbound, which aims to help get researchers of all levels on-board. And of course, I’ve been a ‘fan’ of the speaker given that she has been very outspoken on her journey to promoting science communication in Asia – Assistant Professor Juliana Chan. 😀 Dr Juliana is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Scientist Magazine!

I like to share what I’ve learnt from her presentation, and my own experience with science communication. And why I strong encourage everyone to give it a try – one form or another! 🙂 Continue reading “Scientists communicating science”

Conservation of Giant Clams – Part 1

For the past year, I have had numerous opportunities to speak about the conservation of giant clams. Here, I decided to write a four-part series about the conservation issues surrounding giant clams to commemorate my TED talk in April 2017! For the first post in this series, I shall share the history of giant clam mariculture and explore some of the country case studies in implementing it as a conservation solution.

Cultured juvenile fluted giant clams (Tridacna squamosa), Singapore.

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