Singapore Science Festival 2018

Singapore Science Festival 2018

Jointly organised by the Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR) and Science Centre Singapore, the Singapore Science Festival is an annual national event that celebrates the role science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) plays in shaping our lives and in sculpting our future.

The festival invites all persons who love to inquire, imagine and invent to make the future brighter for all of us. This means everyone who is always curious about the latest scientific developments, and who dares to dream about creating the next scientific breakthrough in Singapore and the world.

 


Talk 1: Mechanobiology - How Do Small Cells Create Large Living Creatures by Prof Michael Sheetz

Venue: Seminar Room 2, Block S2 Level 4, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date: Saturday, 18 August 2018, 10am

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Brief Synopsis

All life is created by cellular units smaller than grains of sand. The challenge of Mechanobiology is to understand how forces and growth at the cellular level are created and controlled to shape the organs and ultimately the organism. What is emerging is the realization that cells use a standard set of tools to create tissues just like you and I use a standard set of tools to build a house. The major difference is that at the length scale of cells there are only very rapid diffusional processes that need to be averaged over time for cellular functions. Thus, similar to your hand phone that has chips with billions of And/Or gates to perform the critical functions, cells have billions of protein motors and enzymes that act on the sub-second time scale to produce the emergent property of a cellular function. We will discuss one cellular device, a sensor of matrix rigidity that is critical for cell differentiation in development and cancerous cell growth. It has a complexity that gives us a window into how other cellular functions can work to create the diverse biological systems that we see every day.

 

 

Talk 2: Goby and Shrimp Symbioses: More than Meets the Eye by Dr Zeehan Jaafar

Venue: Conference Room 1, Block S3 Level 5, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date: Monday, 20 August 2018, 3pm

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Brief Synopsis

Symbiotic association between marine organisms is thought to be one of the driving factors for speciation, and is particularly prevalent in the Coral Triangle biodiversity hotspot. Our understanding of most of these associations is limited to the identities of the associates and the broad impacts each confers to the association. The talk will focus on an association that is mutually beneficial—between the Watchman Goby and the Snapping Shrimp. More than one hundred species of watchman goby live in the burrow excavated by these shrimps. We discovered new behavioural responses in these associations more complex than what is currently known. These discoveries will be shared during the talk. 

 

Talk 3: Seasonal changes in sexual ornaments and sexual behaviours in butterflies by Associate Professor Antonia Monteiro

Venue: Conference Room 1, Block S3 Level 5, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date: Tuesday, 21 August 2018, 3pm

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Brief Synopsis

Both Darwin and Wallace marveled at the color differences often found between males and females of the same species, and at the processes by which they might have come about. In this talk I will present some of their distinct original ideas about the origin of sexual dimorphism and detail experimental work on how some butterflies use their color patterns in attracting the opposite sex. These experiments both support and extend Darwin’s and Wallace’s ideas on the origin of sexual dimorphism.

 

 

Talk 4: Promoting coexistence between humans and wildlife in Singapore: Lessons from civet research and wildlife management strategies in Singapore by Ms Xu Weiting

Venue: Seminar Room 2, Block S2 Level 4, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date: Friday, 24 August, 4.30pm

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Synopsis

From the onset of urbanisation, Singapore has lost up to 80% of the mammal species. Do we still have any wildlife in our “City in A Garden”? The common palm civet is one of our last wild native carnivoran that has persisted in highly urbanized Singapore and yet, the ecology of this animal is poorly understood. Since the first ecological study in 2009, the pioneer study uncovered more questions and thus, gave rise to a series of other civet-related projects. Even though the common palm civets are urban survivors, they constantly face many challenges such as habitat loss, vehicles and human-wildlife conflict. The talk will highlight ongoing outreach efforts and also share some actions that can make a difference for civets and other urban wildlife.

 

 

Talk 5: Blue is the Warmest Color by Dr Vinod Kumar

Venue: Seminar Room 2, Block S2 Level 4, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date:  Saturday, 1 September 2018, 11am

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Synopsis

Most plants use blue pigments routinely to color fruits and flowers, however the blue pigment (and also green) is extremely rare among animals. However, vivid hues including many shades of violets, blues, greens and even ultra-violets (yes, primates and mammals have poor color vision compared to birds, insects and fishes) are quite common on the integument or "skin" of animals and are produced by the scattering of light  by repeating surface features that are about the same size as wavelengths of visible light. These class of colors called structural colors play a very important role in the lives of animals as they are often used in species recognition, mate choice, camouflage and even as warning coloration to potential predators. I will give an overview of what we know about the structure, function and evolution of structural color producing nanostructures in birds, bees, beetles and butterflies.

 

 

Talk 6: Conservation Genomics in the Fight Against the Earth’s Sixth Extinction Crisis by Dr Rheindt, Frank Erwin

Venue: Seminar Room 2, Block S2 Level 4, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117558

Date:  Saturday, 8 September 2018, 11am

Target audience: Public; Secondary school students and above

Registration

Synopsis

Habitat loss, climate change and wildlife trade have created an environmental crisis on our planet that sees more and more organisms slide into endangerment and extinction. An end to this crisis is not in sight. This irrecoverable loss in species diversity brings about an impoverishment of our natural communities and pronounced landscape changes that are likely to have impacts on humans’ well-being. People from different backgrounds must unite to undertake everything we can to slow this extinction crisis. One novel tool in the fight against endangerment and extinction is conservation genomics, which is based on the application of population-genetic and phylogenetic methods to inform conservation practitioners. This talk explores the different ways in which modern conservation genomics has been – or is being – applied here in Singapore and Southeast Asia to aid in species survival and recovery.

 

 

 

 

Contact person: Miss Reena Samynadan

Contact no.: 65162711; Email: dbsrds@nus.edu.sg