Lecturer, College of Alice and Peter Tan, NUS
Academic Director, College of Alice and Peter Tan, NUS
Research Affiliate, Tropical Marine Science Institute, NUS
Co-founder, Our Singapore Reefs
Council member, Singapore Institute of Biology
Dr Toh Tai Chong graduated from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS in 2014 with a PhD in Life Sciences. As a marine biologist, his research focuses on marine conservation and reef restoration. He is now a lecturer with the College of Alice and Peter Tan, a residential college in NUS where he teaches interdisciplinary modules on environmental conservation and sustainability.
The department played a significant role in starting his journey of volunteerism, as it was during this period that he was given the opportunity to take on the leadership of the graduate student society. The training he received as a teaching assistant was a significant reason why he pursued a career in environmental education. The conferment of the “Part-time Teaching Assistant Award 2012” and “Valedictorian 2015” by the department was a strong motivator for him to continue in this field.
His interest in promoting marine science led him to co-organise the Future of Marine Science in Singapore Workshop the annual Sunburst Environment Programme in 2015. Since then, he volunteered as a facilitator with the Singapore Environmental Council, a lecturer with the International Seakeepers Society Asia and an organiser with the International Coastal Clean-up Singapore. To date, he has reached out to more than 50 local schools and organisations to share his experience in conservation.
2017 was a major milestone in his journey of volunteerism. He co-founded Our Singapore Reefs, a community initiative that brings together businesses, NGOs, government agencies and members of the public to confront one of the most pressing issues of our time – marine debris. In 2017, the community removed over 1600 pieces of trash from our ocean and more than twice the number in 2018. By working with different community partners, this initiative aims to co-create events that promote marine conservation through platforms like exhibitions, film screenings and workshops. Beyond Singapore, Our Singapore Reefs also works with international NGOs such as Project Aware and International Seakeepers Society to create impacts overseas.
Today, in his capacity as a council member of Singapore Institute of Biology and Nan Hua High School’s environment board, he promotes environmental education through the development of workshops and enrichment programmes. He is currently working with partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, to translate his training as a marine biologist to community development. More recently, he was invited by the US Embassy Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative to mentor ASEAN youths in developing solutions to combat marine trash. He also shared Singapore’s approach to environmental protection with international delegates hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NUS SCALE.
In recognition of his efforts in environmental education and conservation, he was awarded the National Environmental Agency’s EcoFriend Award in 2018.