Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Feature | A*STAR

The Science of Tomorrow

Agency for Science, Technology and Research
As Singapore’s leading public research agency, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has made it its mission to drive economic growth through scientific discovery and innovation. Learn more about the role that two scholars play in taking national research to the next level.

In this world of ever-evolving challenges and unprecedented opportunities, it is crucial that we not only stay abreast of, but ultimately take the global lead in creating valuable technologies that better human lives. A*STAR is Singapore’s representative in this mission, pushing research frontiers, bringing together public sector agencies and private sector enterprises to foster valuable R&D collaborations, and turning knowledge into real products that contribute directly to our economy and society.

National Science Scholars, Rosa Qi and Daniel Lim, share the role that scholars play in performing impactful research, developing transferrable competencies, and engaging with valuable global networks when they partner with this dynamic and future-thinking organisation. These are their stories.

A Love for Science

As National Science Scholars, both Rosa and Daniel naturally share a burning passion for science. Rosa’s interest lies in the field of neurotechnology, and she desires to use engineering and technology to alleviate the suffering of people diagnosed with neurological disorders. She explains excitedly, “Currently many neurological disorders have no cure, and treatment only encompasses traditional pharmacological methods. There is a huge gap which neurotechnology can fill! I dream of my research helping to improve the quality of lives of those with neurological disorders!”

The National Science Scholarship enabled her to attain her Bachelor of Science degree at the John Hopkins University, before moving to Duke University for her PhD. She credits this time spent overseas as immensely valuable as it allowed her to receive training under the tutelage and guidance of renowned professors in her field of study. In addition, the new environment introduced her to new cultures and exposed her to talented people from all over the world, making it an experience that both invigorated and inspired her.

Fondly reminiscing on her school days, she says, “Those years gave me a great foundation and prepared me well to pursue a career in science.”

Daniel Lim Soon Wei

Daniel Lim Soon Wei 
National Science Scholarship Recipient
Research Officer,
Bioprocessing Technology Institute

Bachelor of Science,
California Institute of Technology

“I fondly recall building prototype cannons, healthcare apps, and impromptu experiments with like-minded peers in A*STAR, as well as the homely support extended by A*STAR scholars at universities around the world.”

In Pursuit of Excellence and Social Impact

Today, Rosa serves at the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), working with clinical and industry partners to develop technology and applications that have immediate impact on lives. She is particularly proud of her role in developing an invasive brain-machine interface. This interface aims to help severely disabled people, such as those with spinal cord injuries or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) control an external device with their brain signals.

Besides the promising impact this project will have on the lives around her, Rosa is also grateful for the experience this project has afforded her in terms of leadership development, project management, and handling complex research collaborations between various stakeholders. “I enjoy the learning process, and I am excited for the chance to develop into a better scientist,” she enthuses.

Daniel, too, has found multiple opportunities for growth in being supported by A*STAR, where today, he develops mathematical models for tiny devices that manipulate fluid flow, which will help shrink the size of equipment for medicine and biomanufacturing. To him, research is as much a team effort as it is an individual intellectual challenge. He fondly recalls building prototype cannons, healthcare apps, and impromptu experiments with his like-minded peers in A*STAR, as well as the homely support extended by A*STAR scholars at universities around the world.

Rosa Qi Yue So

Rosa Qi Yue So 
National Science Scholarship Recipient
Institute for Infocomm Research

Bachelor of Science, John Hopkins University
PhD, Duke University

“I am particularly proud of my role in developing an invasive brain-machine interface that will help severely disabled people control an external device with their brain signals, having an immediate impact on their lives.”

A Future You Shape

After spending time immersed in the research community both overseas and in Singapore, Daniel’s career ambitions have also become more nuanced with research exposure. “Opportunities are not always served to you on a silver platter; they are won by those willing to ask, risk, and push for things they believe in. Even as it is beneficial to adapt to an established environment in A*STAR, you have the chance to make it fit you too,” he muses.

The diversity of paths taken by other A*STAR scholars testifies to the variety of career options supporting individuals in their pursuit of excellence. Daniel cites scholars who have become involved in technology transfer, others who are nurturing future thinkers through academic appointments, and yet more who are pushing intellectual frontiers as leaders of international academic-industrial collaborations.

A scientific career empowers you to shape your own future outside of the laboratory too, Daniel shares, since it grants one “the opportunity to spontaneously design and actually implement solutions to problems you face, the rigorous logical framework that eases your transition into less-familiar knowledge domains, and the environment that prioritises informed evidence over blind speculation.”

Come August 2018, Daniel will be embarking on his PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard University. When asked for advice for aspiring scholars like himself, he concludes, “Your mentors will repeatedly remind you that the only dumb question is the one not asked. Relish the discomfort of not knowing, because the most significant personal growth usually occurs in an intellectually or socially foreign environment.”