Chinese New Year is the start of Chinese calender also known as the Lunar New Year. In Southeast Asia, this is often accompanied by Yusheng or the tossing of a Prosperity salad. It includes many shredded vegetables, sweet sauces, condiments and raw fish (we used smoked salmon). These are tossed up together in a group to welcome the new year with good fortune.
ReproLab members and folk from our neighbouring labs joined in for our own prosperity toss. So what did we scientists say? Here's to good health (lab safety), wealth (research grants) and prosperity (publications).
We made a trip out to the local Citizen Farm to check out the their operation of organic waste recycling using Black Soldier Flies (BSFs). BSF larvae are voracious eaters and can break down nearly 50-70% of organic material and convert 10-12% of that waste into biomass of protein and fats that can be used for animal feed. In our lab, we're interested in the reproductive traits in these flies and we're keen on learning how to optimize fecundity and fertility to increase efficiency and nutrient cycling.
The Science Cafe is a free event that occurs every last Thursday of the month and it aims to promote scientific discourse among the public. The organisers invite scientists and science professionals to speak in a casual setting to discuss a wide range of topics. Dr. P was invited to give a talk about a insects and she gave one entitled "The sexy lives of these sexy flies". It was well received and the Q&A was especially engaging with audience members asking questions ranging from insect biodiversity to policy to fly p*rn. Certainly a memorable event.
NParks and Mr Sivasothi (@sivasothi) organised a 'Careers in Conservation' workshop which was held at the Singapore Botanical Gardens targeting youth with zero background but had interests in pursuing jobs in conservation. It was a fun experiences and participants got to meet and interact with industrial mentors from various fields, ranging from statutory boards to private companies. Dr P. was invited to participate as a mentor to highlight the opportunities that were available in academia and research industries. She even received followup emails from participants that had more specific questions.
For those interested in finding our more, below is a simple map of the possibilities one could pursue in Singapore.
Dr P. spent a great hour talking about science education and careers in STEM with nearly 300 12-year old students at Bukit Panjang Primary School. It so happens Dr P. attended this same school nearly 20 years ago and it was great to be back giving a talk as an alumni.
The 45 min Q&A session was a particular highlight because there were numerous questions spanning a whole range of topics. Dr P. was especially impressed by a young boy who asked her if the gender pay inequality existed in science. He also her asked what the trade off was between economic growth and environmental sustainability. Other questions included queries about the Big Bang, how hurricanes are formed, the role of humans in triggering earthquakes, what it was like studying overseas as well as which came first, the chicken or the egg. Overall it was a truly enjoyable experience. But as usual, this is Singapore... so the very first question was "How much money do you make?".
When you tell someone you are a scientist, the image that pops into their mind, is often that of someone working in the laboratory, wearing a white coat and retro safety glasses. And that is not far from the truth for many in the STEM fields.
But for those of us in the natural sciences, there often exists another glamorous component... Fieldwork. In our lab, this often involves travelling to different countries and exploring different kinds of habitats to sample insects. From swampy mangroves and dense forests to urban neighbourhoods, insects can occupy a whole range of niches. We collect insects from different environments and whenever possible, we try to observe what they do in the 'wild'.
One of the main insect models we use in our lab are sepsid flies: a family of flies that are closely associated with dung. Yep... they are poop flies. These flies play a vital role in breaking down organic waste and in nutrient cycling. Plus, they have really cool morphology and mating behavior (https://www.youtube.com/user/sepsidbehavior2009). Dr. P started working on them as an undergraduate and has now spent more than a decade chasing cows and their patties across the world.
Now, you might be wondering, where can you find cow dung in the urban jungle that is Singapore. Well, it turns out, the Zoo. Since 2006, the kind folk working at the Singapore Night Safari have been collaborating with the Evolution Lab at NUS in providing different kinds of animal dung to be used for research purposes. Now, we at the ReproLab, have joined the band wagon.
We are looking for a full time RA to join our lab.
Requirements and responsibilities
- Degree in biology, environmental science or a related field as well as an interest in ecology and evolution.
- Prior experience of working in a molecular lab (e.g: DNA/RNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, analysis etc.).
- Written and verbal competency in English as well as an ability to work collaboratively with many people.
- Keen on working with and maintaining insects for research purposes. Fieldwork experience is desirable but absence is not a preclusion.
- Conscientious and responsible. The job will require attention to details and day-to-day management of data, students and laboratory work.
- Deadline for application is 8th October 2017.
- The position is for 1 year (with the potential for renewal).
- Applicants should be ready to start as soon as possible or by the end of the year.
- Salary will be dependent on qualifications and includes CPF contributions for Singaporeans/PR (Approx. $2700-$3000).
- If interested, submit your CV and a short write-up about why you want this job and how you could contribute to the lab. Send both in a single email to the PI (include the following in the subject head: RA application Your_name).
- Short-listed applicants will be notified for an interview in mid October.
The Biology of Spermatozoa (BoS) meetings are held biannually at Hassop Hall, situated in the middle of the lovely peak district in the UK. It is a conference that aims 'to bring together biologists that are interested in different aspects of reproductive biology' and this year was no different. From talks on misregulated X chromosome gene expression in spermatogenesis in mice hybrid sterility by Erica Larsson to gonad expenditure and sperm competition in broadcast spawners by Geoff Parker to postcopulatory mechanisms of reproductive isolation in birds by Murielle Alund, the research that was presented was exciting, inspiring and relevant in our field.
This meeting also presented an opportunity to reunite with beloved collaborators and friends as well as form new acquaintances with fellow reproductive biologists.
We're already looking forward to the next BoS in 2 years time.
Dr. P was an invited speaker at the Career Fair 2017 at Teck Ghee Primary School. She spoke to Primary 5 and 6 students (approx. 500 students) about what it is like to be scientist and what that career path entails. It was a great session and elicited numerous questions amidst the participants including:
- How much money do you make?
- Is there DNA in space?
- How do scientists share their science?