Tag Archives: Study Tour

Reflections on the trip

After the study tour finished on the Wednesday, some of us decided to stay together at a backpackers in Little India before going home. It was a good time to relax, and get to know each other a bit better, after being busy looking at all the research facilities. While there we went out and explored some areas of Singapore that I hadn’t been to before.

Going to Singapore was a great experience. Although already been there before, I wasn’t able to look around and explore and learn about it like I did this time. I learnt more about the future applications of the material I am currently learning through the Nanotechnology course. It wasn’t just centred around one area either; we got to see a range of different areas. Singapore’s culture was interesting to learn. The food over there is a big part of their culture. It shows with how nice, and cheap it was. Everywhere we went to eat had chopsticks to use if we wanted so I’ve basically become an expert at using them now.

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Final entry on Singapore

Today i return home from a study tour in Singapore. I originally arrived in Singapore on the 20th of June to spend some time with my girlfriend and get used to the new place. Singapore has surprised me in many ways, from its multiculturalism to its education system. One thing that engaged me the most was finding out how much the government cares about science and being able to see its relevance not only for the country, but for the global community.

I learned so much on the study tour not only in my field of nanotechnology, but also in business and education. It seems to me that if you want a quality research program then go to Singapore where the government is eager to help. I would like to come back to Singapore some day, not just for the food, oh now there was some amazing food there. I could get lost in my thoughts just relishing in the never ending gastronomical possibilities that exist in Singapore.

Upon returning to Australia it just hit me how different the two countries are. Just turning on the news and listening a bit, i see how different our attitudes are to those in parliament. While in Singapore the government is treated with reverence, here back home we treat them harshly, questioning their every move. The little things also remind me im back home, such as how expensive it is to eat lunch in Australia. In Singapore you can get a filling meal with your pocket change, not so easily in Australia. But the land don under has one thing the Singaporeans don’t have, good fresh coffee. Oh how i missed my cappuccinos and espressos, where ever you go in Melbourne, you can be sure to find good coffee.

I guess that’s all i ask for Singapore in the future, don’t change one bit but import some real cafes.

So long, Singapore… for now!

This study tour has been a life changing experience. Not only have I gained an inestimable amount of knowledge on Singapore, but I have also had my first exposure to overseas travel. I feel that this experience has given me a much deeper insight into foreign culture than I could have ever gained in Australia.

Looking back on the last two weeks, it seems like it was all just a blur. I have experienced so much in such a little amount of time; everything from lab tours to presentations, from the Singapore food culture to Singaporean governmental politics. Looking back, I think it is safe to say that my expectations prior to coming to Singapore were not entirely accurate. Indeed, I could never have predicted exactly how it would feel to experience a foreign country, especially one as unique as Singapore.

But despite everything, I am still very glad to be home. As much as I have enjoyed both the social and educational aspects of this study tour, by the end I was beginning to miss the comforts of being at home. But with that being said, I am almost certain that I will return to Singapore at some point in my life, perhaps even for a semester exchange program.

So with that I bid you farewell, Singapore, until we meet again!

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.

Final Day

Wednesday, the last day of the tour. This morning we went to IMB- the institute for molecular biology at Biopolis, we were given a tour of their laboratories, which as every place we have been, were very good. We then had a look at their microscopy unit, where they had a few confocal microscopes, a super resolution microscope, which provides a way to overcome the diffraction limit of light microscopes, and then some microscopes for live tissue cells, which were contained in a Perspex box which could have all ambient conditions controlled to keep the cell alive.

Professor Victor Nurcombe then talked to us about Singapore’s opportunities and how money is no object for research and Singapore is also home to most millionaire households per capita. He then went on to talk about some of his research, which was pretty amazing, basically he worked out that the sugars that activate stem cells can be used to re grow bones, capillaries and many other hard to repair cells.

We then had lunch, and went to NUS. We went to the surface science department, and had a tour of their laboratories, which had mass spectrometers and scanning tunnelling microscopes. I found the tour pretty interesting as I have just learnt how these microscopes work so it was good to see them in real life and talk to people that use them. We then had a quick tour of the NUS synchrotron as we were running a bit behind schedule, I also found this interesting as it was my first time visiting a synchrotron.

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To finish off the tour, we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk with Shaun and Nicolai and had some coffee and biscuits for about an hour. Nicolai was very interesting to talk to, he told us about alternate light sources, which are made from gallium nitride and have a life span of 50 years if they are used for 6 hours a day, and they are 3 times more energy efficient than current power saving light globes. After the coffee break, we had completed the study tour, a few of the guys and me had a couple of beers and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Chillin’ with Lemurs

The activities today were reasonably laid back and relaxed, as they were both specifically for tourists. In the morning, we visited Fusionworld, a subsidiary of A*Star that is designed to showcase some of the more ‘exciting’ recent scientific developments. We were shown various new technologies, including a computer game that is powered by brain wave activity and an interactive screen that is controlled using a laser pointer. I was particularly interested in the applications of these technologies. For example, the brain-wave game was designed specifically to improve the focus of children with ADHD, and there have been studies which have shown its effectiveness.

In the afternoon, we joined once again with international students in the Biodiversity Group, and together we visited Singapore Zoo. We were given a ‘behind-the-scenes’ pass, and we were educated on how the zoo functions in order to keep the animals happy and healthy, including feeding procedures, veterinary services and general zoo maintenance. In addition, we also had some time to walk freely around the zoo and visit all of the animals. As with the aquarium, I will let the photos describe this portion of the trip!

CREATE

Today was a less intensive day compared to the rest. The first half of the day we stayed at NUS and worked on our group assignments as Team Nano. We were able to make progress through these and get a start on preparing which one of the A*star institutes to present. After our group work we made our way to the CREATE building in U Town.

This building has been looming over us our entire stay in U Town and we are finally able to visit it. The building is part of the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) which primarily researches biomedical technologies. Once inside we had a tour of a few labs inside the CREATE building.

Our visit to the CREATE building was a short one which gave us free time. A group of us decided to play a quick game of basketball, this turned out to be 2 hours, but it was time well spent having fun in-between visits. After the game we headed off for a glorious and refreshing shower, i ate dinner then crashed in bed embracing sleep.

Relaxing Weekend

This week end we had free gave me some much needed time to relax and recuperate. My highlight from the week end would have to be the time we spent at Wild Wild Wet. We spent a sizeable amount of time trying to actually leave NUS. Im not sure how long we spent waiting around for the local bus to take us to Kent Ridge MRT station but it was too long, so in the end we decided to take a taxi the way there. The water park was no disappointment, at only 19 dollars entry and access to all the rides we had a wonderful time in the wet.

As we departed Wild Wild Wet, Nick and I chose to go to Orchard road and do some shopping. We went together and found ourselves at Ion, a massive shopping complex that gave us many options of where to shop. This place was the first shopping centre i have been to in Singapore and it did not fail to disappoint me.

SMART CREATE center.

The morning was spent in out Pico and Nano groups working on our group assignments which are worth 30% of our overall grade mark. I was doing a report on IMRE. Considering writing is not my strong point, I have been finding these reports hard.
In the afternoon we went to the SMART CREATE (MIT Joint Centre) at University Town which was only a short walk from our meeting point at Starbucks. The centre was research laboratory for biological materials such as disease research like cancer and malaria. In vitro drug interaction using microfluidics. They then showed us how they make the microfluidic chips using PDMS by soft lithography.
The second laboratory section we visited was a high precision optics lab which shoots lasers like pew pew. Which changed the refractive index of the medium around the scanning area which would alter the path of the sequential laser beam, gense giving a result.
Overall the day was pretty short. We were dismissed at 4:00 which was pretty early considering we were already at Utown. So seven of us went to the basketball court where we played a few half court games which was a really nice chance to show the like-mindedness of the students on the tour.