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

Creating Growth, Enhancing Lives

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) continues to drive mission-oriented research to advance scientific discovery and technological innovation. It also plays a crucial role in nurturing and developing talent and leaders, such as Dr Lim Yuan Chong Jasonand Dr Ng Hui Jin Natasha, who are creating impactful outcomes for the benefit of society.

Left: Dr Jason Lim is a recipient of the National Science Scholarship. He is currently Group Leader and a Deputy Head of Department of IMRE's Soft Materials Department. He is very passionate about finding new ways to turn waste plastics into useful resources for society. Outside of work, he is a great fan of classical music and enjoys playing the piano.

Right: Dr Natasha Ng is a Senior Scientist at the Stem Cells and Diabetes Group at IMCB. She hopes to bring her research team to greater heights and contribute to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in the community. Outside of work, Natasha is passionate about graphic design, gardening and hiking.

Research and development are of strategic importance to Singapore and a robust pipeline of talent is critical for Singapore to build up our research excellence and support Singapore’s economic growth.

The A*STAR scholarship invests in and builds up a pool of scientific talent who will not only be able to address national challenges, but complex global ones as well.

Dr Lim Yuan Chong Jason and Dr Ng Hui Jin Natasha advanced their education with A*STAR’s prestigious National Science Scholarship (BS-PhD). Today, they are both leading ground-breaking researches as a Group Leader, Deputy Head of Department and Senior Research Fellow respectively.

Jason is passionate about sustainable chemistry. Aptly, his role includes working on sustainability and upcycling to create new, functional materials or industrially useful chemicals for a zero-waste society. Completing his higher education journey through the A*STAR scholarship, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Imperial College London and a Doctor of Philosophy in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Oxford.

A NSS (BS-PhD) Scholar, Natasha graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Imperial College London, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences from the University of Oxford in 2016. Since young, she had been intrigued by biology and the natural sciences. Her role enables her to explore her interests in the lab, from investigating the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying diabetes, to using stem cell technologies to develop new treatments and interventions for the disease.

Let’s find out more about their passion and journeys from a student to an accomplished researcher.

Dr Jason Lim

Dr Jason Lim

The sciences encompass many different subjects. Could you tell us more about the area you are interested in and why?

Jason: I am highly passionate about sustainable chemistry. My current research focuses on transforming waste plastics into useful products for society, and I am particularly drawn to this area of research as it is a meaningful application of my training and contributes towards addressing the problem of plastic waste.

Natasha: I have always been interested in both the natural and biomedical sciences. Life sciences symbolises a world we can see and touch, and provides a better understanding of the human condition.

Since my school days, I’ve always studied biology as a subject. I was fortunate to have had engaging and enthusiastic biology teachers throughout my education, who inspired me and sustained my interest in the subject.

“The NSS Scholarship supports up to eight years of education, and it was especially attractive to me as it offered unique opportunities to study and conduct research at top universities worldwide.” Dr Jason Lim

Tell us about your experience of undertaking the National Science Scholarship.

Jason: The NSS (BS-PhD) supports up to eight years of education, and it was especially attractive to me as it offered unique opportunities to study and conduct research at the top universities worldwide, learn from leading international experts and collaborate with great minds from across the globe.

During the undergraduate stage, there are numerous internship opportunities offered at A*STAR’s many research institutes. They enable scholars like myself to work closely with practicing scientists and better appreciate the research process.

Natasha: I am thankful for the award and have not looked back since. I chose NSS (BS-PhD) as I wanted to pursue a life sciences degree and experience living and studying overseas. The scholarship offered the best support and helped me secure a meaningful career at A*STAR upon my graduation.

In addition, I received generous funding during my scholarship period and thus did not need a grant. This gave me the freedom to choose (almost) any research lab to conduct my graduate research training and made the application process much easier. The scholarship gave me peace of mind and allowed me to focus on my studies and research training.

Dr Natasha Ng

Dr Natasha Ng

Would you recommend it to students seeking scholarship opportunities?

Jason: I believe that this scholarship is perfect for those who are interested in the sciences, want to be immersed in an intellectually stimulating environment, and be at the forefront of scientific discovery to solve real-world problems.

Natasha: For students interested in pursuing science and technology as a career, I’d say this scholarship is for you. Along with tangible benefits like funding support, the tight-knitted and encouraging community and networking opportunities offer long-term and wider-reaching benefits.

“I chose NSS (BS-PhD) as I wanted to pursue a life sciences degree and experience living and studying overseas.” Dr Natasha Ng

The National Science Scholarship is awarded to students aiming for a fulfilling career in research. So, could you share more about what you do at work?

Jason: After acquiring my PhD, I began my career with A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). During my early years, I was fortunate to have very supportive supervisors who encouraged me to explore different areas of research.

Today, I am a Group Leader as well as a Deputy Department Head in IMRE’s Soft Materials Department. Besides planning research projects and ensuring sufficient resources for my team, I also mentor and guide them towards achieving their career goals. As a Deputy Department Head, I am responsible for engaging different research stakeholders and assisting my Head of Department in various aspects of research administration.

Natasha: As a Senior Research Fellow at A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), I work at the Stem Cells and Diabetes lab, using stem cell-based technologies to study diabetic conditions. Besides conducting my own hands-on research, I also perform project management, manage a team of scientists, analyse data and study relevant literature. The work is varied and keeps me engaged daily.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a scientific career with A*STAR?

Jason: If you want opportunities to perform fundamental research and to see the translation and development of your brainchild from lab to real life, then A*STAR is perfect for you.

Other than technical roles, there are multiple career pathways that you can choose from, including managerial and administrative roles, as well as opportunities within the Innovation and Enterprise Group.

Natasha: There are a lot of research opportunities at A*STAR as there are many research institutes and labs with different specialties. Beyond the lab, exploring opportunities in technology translation, research administration, planning and policy within the corporate groups are also encouraged.