The theme of this message is “Evolution”. Since its founding 70 years ago, the department has reinvented itself several times to keep pace with the demanding pace of biology, changes in the education and research mission of NUS, and the priorities of Singapore. But this transformation from a teachingintensive department to a research-intensive department has been guided by a series of strategic steps. The first step was to combine the Zoology and Botany departments in the 90s. In the beginning of the new millennium, the second step was to base the conversion to research-intensive on hiring top young talent and development of state-of-art core facilities. We are just finishing the third step, expansion into Environmental Biology and Biophysical Sciences with a stronger emphasis on quantitative and computational tools for analyzing and modeling biological function.
New opportunities have resulted in several areas of research excellence. Our world-renowned Ecology and Biodiversity research groups are investing new focus on biodiversity and conservation in face of climate change in an urban environment. Similarly, DBS is a world center for the molecular cell and developmental biology of fish and plant models. Our Biophysical Sciences group is anchored by large funding awards to the Research Centre of Excellence in Mechanobiology and NUS Centre for BioImaging Sciences. We anticipate these activities will enhance the research significance of DBS labs and expose NUS undergraduates to cutting-edge laboratory experiences.
Keeping pace with these changes requires major renovations to the department infrastructure. More than half of the department occupies newly renovated labs. Equally important, the department has built new stateof- art plant growth facilities, suitable for large-scale screens. In the planning stages are a new Insectary and Mass Spec Facility.
Paul Matsudaira (Distinguished Professor and Head of Department)