Tag Archives: IMRE

The last day of the study tour

Today was our last day of the study tour. The first visit of the day was to the Institute of Medical Biology. We got a tour of some of their labs, where we were shown some super resolution microscopes they use. They had picture comparisons of rat kidneys, and other things, to show us how much better the resolution is on the new microscopes. Next, one of the people working there, who is Australian, talked about his research. He was working on the regeneration of bone using certain sugars, instead of using bone growth factor. Which was fairly Interesting


Next we went and had some lunch back at NUS, before heading over to the NUS surface science labs. While at the labs, Paul was helpful in explain to us some of the machines they had there, while the other researchers also talked about what they were working on.

After that  we had a quick look at the synchrotron, as we were running out of time to get to IMRE, and talked to people who were doing there research there. I find it amazing how small the synchrotron is, compared to the one in Melbourne.


Lastly, to end the trip we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk about the places we had visited and reflected on the experiences a little bit. One of the guys we talked to also told us about some of the research they had done there.


The Study Tour Final Day

On Wednesday the 9th of July we had our final day of the La Trobe Nanotechnology Study Tour in Singapore. It was a really great day to end the tour on. First we started our morning by going to Biopolis, where we visited the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) where we got to see some of their laboratories and then have an extremely intriguing presentation by Victor Nurcombe. Victor researched into stem cells, heparin glycosaminoglycan, and natural sugars. They were able to grow bones back using just the sugars in pigs, fish, rabbits, rats, and soon will have a human trial to see if it works in humans. 

After visiting IMB, we went to NUS’s surface science laboratories and the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) located in NUS. The SSLS was very interesting as it was such a small synchrotron, yet it was able to help so many different research machines that they had there. 

Our last stop for the study tour was IMRE where we started our study tour. It was good to meet Sean again and to discuss our thoughts about Singapore then compared to when we first arrived. After some tea, coffee and hot milo, a good discussion and a goodbye, we signed off the study tour and said goodbye to Paul and Dongchen. 

Since the study tour finished I have travelled to Jakarta, and am now currently in Bali relaxing by the pool. I definitely needed this little holiday to relax after the two weeks of hard, but enjoyable work.


Final Day

Today marks the last day of the Nanotechnology Singapore study tour. Our first stop was to visit the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and receive a presentation from a fellow aussie Victor Nurcombe. His current research was into natural sugars and their ability to regrow bones, which was evident in rabbits, fish, pigs and mice. Their next step is in a human trial.

After our visit to IMB, we headed back to NUS to visit the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS). This place was intriguing since it had 1 working synchrotron and 1 on standby in case the first fails.

After the visit to the SSLS we made our way to our last visit back at IMRE. This was a nice way to end the trip by going back to the first institute that we had visited. At IMRE we had some coffee and tea and relaxed and talked to various people, including some professors. After this little sit down, we headed off outside and said our farewells to Paul and Dongchen.

After the study tour, i had almost an extra week in Singapore. I used this time to do some activities that i didn’t have the chance to do during the study tour.

Biopolis and the final day.

After an early night, I woke up at 4:00am to watch the Brazil & Germany World Cup match. Just after the 7:1 German victory, the sky’s above Singapore opened up to a torrential downpour with lighting cracking all around us. It was truly an intense experience to have purple lighting so close to us. By our meeting time of 8:20am it had slowed down to a drizzle. We took the shuttle bus to Kent ridge then the train to Bona vista, where we then walked for a few minutes to Immunos at Biopolis. Biopolis is an international research and development centre for biomedical sciences. Immunos is one of the buildings in the Biopolis complex which houses The Institute of Medical Biology (IMB). We were greeted and given a tour of their laboratories. Then we were given a presentation by an Australian Professor, Victor Nucombe who works at IMB.

The presentation was about himself, history about Singapore, and the story of the company he is in/ how he got there.It was very interesting to know how Victor Nucombe got to where he currently is and the journey he has taken to get there.
We were then taken down to the basement where they showed us their super-resolution fluoresce microscopes. Apart from being very beautiful, the images they take there are also useful scientifically.

We then travelled back to NUS, to their surface science laboratory where we were shown their equipment and the Singapore synchrotron light source (SSLS). The SSLS is very small compared to the one we have at Monash, but it is still able to produce what is needed for experiments.

After that visit we returned to IMRE where we once again had a sit down and chatted with some of the people there. From which we were then dismissed from the tour.
I then continued my own adventures.

Suits and Science 30/06

Today we met down at starbucks at 8 o’clock in our fancy dress all primped and proper for our visit to the Australian High Commission. I was a little bit nervous today because this was our first official type of visit.

When we arrived at the Commission we had to pass through a security check point. After passing through here we entered the foyer and in it were boards showcasing the Australian and Singaporean relationship. We then had a meeting and learned a lot about the economic ties between Australia and Singapore. After the main body of business was completed I was time for tea and questions, which quickly turned to talking about our favourite footy teams.

IMRE - George Tsironis
IMRE – George Tsironis

After we left the High Commission we made our way back to U Town for a quick change of clothes and some much needed food. Our next stop was to the A Star institute IMRE for a tour around the facilities. This was really informative since it allowed me to see what kind of instruments I’m going to be using in the future. It also allowed me to see what possible future I have with nanotechnology.

High Commission: Singapore Day 1

Yesterday morning’s visit to the Australian High Commission was a resounding logistical success (despite the need for a groggy 8am start- sans Starbucks 😮 ), with room to leisurely make our way down from Brunetti’s (in my case Starbucks, as even the legendarily expensive cafe chain was outdone by the normally quite reasonable Brunetti’s). Once we had all cleared security, examined the artwork and Colombo Plan history pieces on display and generally cooled down as quickly as possible (suits, public transport and tropical climes don’t mix well with Melbournians), Jennifer Burdick (3rd Secretary, DFAT) and Tracy Harris (Trade Commissioner, Australian Trade Commission (Singapore)) proceeded to brief us on the various aspects of Singaporean-Australian relations as well as internal characteristics of Singapore.

The quirks of the otherwise vanilla Westminster political system of Singapore were of particular interest to me, simultaneously providing throwbacks to rare historical exceptions (such as nominative MPs representing sectors of society such as the arts or business- very similar to the guilds corporations that vote in the City of London) and measures rarely seen (even rarer to be enforced correctly) in the most egalitarian corporations and governments (diversity quotas- interesting when viewed in light of the recent Google report on its own unfilled diversity quotas). In addition to these quirks, I found the most interesting parts of the briefing to be the emphasis on the codependency of Australia and Singapore that originates from the complementary nature of our raw materials (arable land and ore) and targeted expertise (the raison d’etre of our visit- LTU’s surface science and condensed matter physics expertise facilitates the ever-strengthening interactions between NUS and LTU) with Singapore’s processing, distribution and financial expertise.

After a brief interlude we visited IMRE, hosted by Dr. Sean O’Shea, who briefed the study tour group on the organisational aspects of IMRE (at a breakneck pace, due to the lukewarm reception of a working scientist of bureaucratic clockwork) as well as the science done at IMRE; Following Dr. O’Shea’s presentation, Dr. Evan Williams presented to us the commercialisation-oriented Materials Centre of Innovation (MCOI), exploring the integration of Singaporean government-funded science with growing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the strategies employed and/or designed by MCOI to bring novel materials into viable products and on into commercial success.

Afterwards, we toured a number of labs including techniques such as time-resolved fluorescence confocal microscopy, TEM, STM, NMR and ToF-SIMS. Of particular interest to me was the microscopy lab, which was thoroughly explained by Dr. Nikodem- the elements of system design and scientific instrumentation gave me a sense of the universality and applicability of what I’ve been doing, as the lab development Minh Dao and I have been doing for Dr. C. Q. Tran has involved many of the same software (Labview and Python, technology vendors (Thorlabs and Newport) and challenges as that discussed with Dr. Nikodem.

High commission. Suit up.

After an early start it was nice to suit up and feel important. The humid morning soon turned the nice suit into a sweat cocoon. After a quick train and bus ride with an iced drink at the end to help me cool off. We soon entered the Australian high commission where we were greeted with a beautiful embassy showcasing the relationship between Australia and Singapore including the Colombo program. The group was greeted by two women who worked there. They spoke to us about the Singapore-Australia relationship, including extremely close defence relations being at the core of the relationship, details about the free trade agreement, and education exchanges between respective countries universities. We then had a more informal chat with the lady about Singapore, and her experience as an Australian living in Singapore.
Singapore is quite amazing in the way that it is so strong economically while having no natural resources. Building its wealth off crude oil processing, financial processing, and a large pharmaceutical  industry. This has allowed Singapore to be as strong as it has been. 

Then we rushed back to the accommodation and got changed quickly then rushed off to the IMRE, Institute for materials, research, and education. We were given presentations by two males that worked at A*STAR, which is a government organisation which does research and development for industries in Singapore, from small scale to large multinationals.

We then had a tour of the facilities where we saw a range of different laboratories and equipment which are very useful for nanotechnology. During a break I was able to network with a man doing his PhD in lithium ion batteries and the carbon structures used to hold them in the anode.

Australia High Commission and IMRE

It was an early start to the day today as we left NUS (National University of Singapore) at 8am to head to the Australian High Commission. It was just a few stops on the train from Kent Ridge to Holland Village where we quickly got some breakfast at Brunetti which had amazing croissants and milkshakes (the milkshakes had choc chips in them….. YUM!!). We then made our way to the Australian High Commission and once we had gone through security we were greeted by Jennifer Burdick, the third secretary, and Tracy Harris who works for Austrade. They held a highly informative seminar in which we learns all about Singapore’s political system and history,  Singapore’s relationship with Australia, and the educational relationship with Australia.

In the afternoon we visited IMRE (Institute of Molecular Research and Engineering) where Dr Sean O’Shea who then gave us an introduction, followed by Dr Evan Williams. We were then shown around the building to several labs, the first being an optics lab which had several machines that measures the light emitted from a single molecule. After this we went to the nano-composites lab which was my personal favourite as it is something I have a large interest in, and is something I am considering as a potential future job opportunity. In this lab they have been working a lot with carbon fibre to make new bicycle frames that are extremely strong and light. They have previously made aeroplane turbine propellers out of carbon fibre, but wanted to try and make them withstand the extremely high temperatures from the engine, and also be able to withstand a lightning strike. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful in doing so, they were able to make it withstand 10^16 times more electricity than previously and could withstand an indirect lightning strike, however a direct hit would still break it. The third lab we attended was the characterisation lab which used had SEM’s (Scanning Electron Microscope) and other scanning machines alike.


Overall today was a highly informative and enjoyable day. I look forward to the days ahead.


High Commision and IMRE

This morning we had to dress up in our suits and ties to visit the Australian high commision. I wasn’t looking forward to walking around in my suit outside because of how humid it is here, but surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. We took public transport to the high commision and arrived early so we stopped to get some coffee nearby.

After coffee we walked over to the high commision, where we had to pass through airport security basically, we all got through successfully. The lobby of the commision had a modern, industrial feel to it and it was much cooler than outside. We were greeted by Jennifer, and Tracy, whom gave an informal talk to us about the relationship between Australia and Sinagpore.   Singapore’s relationship with Australia is a very close one, there are connections in almost all aspects of governenment and both have similar views on many topics. Australia and Singapore also have mamy commomalities as they are both relatively young countries and have a very diverse, multicultural background. After the talk, we had a disscussion session with the speakers accompanied by some morning tea.

Once morning tea was finished, we came back to our accomodation where we had half an hour to get changed and get lunch, let me say, getting a footlong Subway was a bad choice, I don’t think I have ever eaten one that fast before.

After getting changed we caught the NUS shuttle bus to the institute of materials and engineering (IMRE) where we were greeted by Dr Sean O’Shea and he gave us a brief outline on what IMRE do. We then had a tour around some of the facalities, such as the optics lab, where Dr Nikodem explained one microscopy technique that can detect light from single molcules, which was pretty interesting but complicated. Next, we went to a nanocomposites lab where Dr Warintorn gave us a tour and showed us a carbon fibre tube which is going to be used for new, light weight bicycles, which was awesome. We then went and looked at some SEM equipment, that looked like some alien tech, after that the day was completed and I went back to my accomodation and rested.


Science, Politics and Pork Buns


Today was the first early start of the study tour, with the leaving time set at precisely 8am. Our first scheduled visit was to the Australian High Commission, wherein we were to hear from Deputy High Commissioner Julie Heckscher, as well as Third Secretary Jennifer Burdick and Austrade Commisioner Tracy Harris. Unfortunately, Julie Heckscher had been sick for several days, so she was not able to speak. Instead, we had an interesting talk with Jennifer and Tracy, covering topics such as the similarities/differences between Singaporean and Australian politics and the bi-lateral relationship between the two countries.

It was interesting to hear how exactly Australian and Singaporean politics differed; the same general parliamentary democracy structure is employed in both countries, however there are some key differences. For example, the winning party in the Singaporean system has the majority of the seats, and so there is little voice given to any members of the opposing party. This is not the case in Australia, where the opposing party will always retain a reasonably high number of seats in parliament, and has power to vote on what legislation is passed.

With regards to the bi-lateral relationship, it is obvious that both countries are fairly heavily invested in the other, specifically in areas such as defense, trade, tourism and education. However, it certainly seems that there is a potential for research collaboration that is not yet fully utilised.

After a quick lunch back at the University Town (pork buns and dumplings for myself), we then proceeded to the Institute for Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). We listened to two speakers, Drs Sean O’Shea and Evan Williams, about the activities of A*STAR and IMRE, and we discussed the Materials Center of Innovation (MCOI). We then toured some of the many laboratories in the building, and we were given a brief overview of some of the equipment.

I very much enjoyed learning about the MCOI, which is setup to aid in small and medium enterprise (SME) research, through scientific collaborative research. It was also fascinating to tour the laboratories and to hear exactly how some of the equipment was designed and implemented in modern research.

Overall, it was great to finally start learning about the science of Singapore, and I am more than ever looking forward to the activities planned for the rest of the week.