The island state of Singapore presents a unique model for examining how anthropogenic activities shape natural ecosystems. Lying at the crossroad between Pacific and Indian Oceans on the western edge of the Coral Triangle, Singapore has the third highest population density and world’s busiest tropical Port. The small island state adopted the Garden City concept for urban development planning soon after independence. The City Biodiversity Index (CBI) was introduced in 2009 to encourage biodiversity conservation within the urban environment. Recently, we have started to consider the CBI in context of Singapore’s waterways. With limited territorial waters, significant challenges exist for managing conflicts between stakeholders. The surge in economic activities along all coastlines and global climate change presents significant new challenges for the harbor and surrounding aquatic ecosystems.
Over the past decade, TMSI is working closely with government agencies to map and characterize Singapore’s waterways. This includes the biodiversity baseline and maintaining high resolution hydrodynamic models to support government coastal management requirements. With multi-discipline labs covering acoustics, oceanography, ecology and biology, TMSI works closely with local urban planners to develop methods to minimize impacts, rehabilitate degraded coastal habitats and enhance biodiversity in the urban sea-scape. The institute has a marine station on St John’s Island to support research requiring seawater aquaria facilities.
In order to understand ecological impacts in response to urban pressures form inland-water flows, SCELSE has developed expertise and capacity for systems level analyses, imaging and related technologies to address responses of microbial communities in Singapore inland waters to, and impact on, shifts in urban environments. SCELSE and SIMS recently identified similar ecosystem natural and anthropogenic drivers on water-quality and aquatic life in inland (Singapore) and estuarine (Australia) waters. As part of the World Harbor Project, SCELSE will contribute expertise in integrating multi-omics for investigating both top-down/bottom-up influences of urban pressures on inland, estuarine and marine ecosystems.
Staffan Kjelleberg is Director of the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, NTU Singapore, and Co-Director, the Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation UNSW Australia. His research interests include bacterial biofilm biology, chemically mediated interactions used by bacteria and higher organisms, and harnessing/controlling biofilms for engineering and public health applications. His research incorporates a meta-‘omics approach to explore microbial communities and processes in complex systems, with translational outcomes in biotechnology and environmental/ public health domains.
Professor Kjelleberg has employed a multidisciplinary approach for advancements in microbial ecology, as well as for the merger of the previously disparate fields of environmental microbiology, eukaryote and marine ecology, as well as environmental engineering. His work on bacterial adaptive responses and biofilm biology has provided insights into the predominant modes of life of bacteria in the environment.
Sanjay Swarup, SCELSE Graduate Program Director, Deputy Research Director (Environmental Engineering); Deputy Director, NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI); Department of Biological Sciences, NUS Professor Swarup’s research combines multidisciplinary approaches to understand the biological roles of metabolites in cellular networks and in signalling between environmental microbes and their hosts. Prof. Swarup uses multi-‘omics approaches to better understand microbial processes in environmental contexts such as tropical urban freshwater.
Peter Alan Todd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he runs the Experimental Marine Ecology Laboratory and coordinates the Minor in Aquatic Ecology. Peter received his BSc in Ecological Sciences from the University of North London in 1997 and completed his PhD in Marine Ecology at NUS in 2002. After a two and half year postdoctoral period at Napier University, Scotland, he returned to NUS as an Instructor and then Lecturer. Peter is an experimental marine ecologist who specialises in designing, implementing and analysing novel approaches to investigations. He focusses on the ecology and functioning of Southeast Asian tropical marine organisms and communities, including the impacts of urbanization. In his applied research he tries to better understand, and ultimately improve, Singapore’s impacted coastal environments. He is an Academic Editor for PLoS ONE, Subject Editor for Oikos, and Associate Editor for the Raffles Bulletin.
Serena Teo is Assistant Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Tropical Marine Science Institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Professor Teo graduated with BSc Honours in Zoology from NUS in 1988. She completed her PhD in Marine Biology (1992) in University of Wales Swansea, UK and returned to NUS to work as a marine biologist. Her research interests lie in understanding how anthropogenic activities interact and shape the marine environment. Current research projects include marine biosecurity, antifouling research and marine invasive species transfer through shipping.
Sek Man Wong
Sek Man Wong was appointed as Director, Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS) on 1 October 2014. He is concurrently Director (Alumni Relations & Special Duties), Faculty of Science, NUS and Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS. Professor Man’s research interest is in discovery of new viruses and studies of viral gene functions.