ISSUE 2, 2012 - Times Higher Education

timeshighereducation.co.uk

ISSUE 2, 2012 - Times Higher Education

ISSUE 2, 2012

Future Healthcare

Sustainable Earth

New Media

Innovation Asia

The New Silk Road


In This Issue

1 NTU President’s Message

2 At A Glance

4 Cover Story

Holistic Healthcare

8 Insight

Frontier Research: Combat Infections By Novel Antimicrobial

Materials And Coatings

Optofluidics: Creating Synergies Between Microfluidics And Photonics

Frontiers In Medicine: Designing Effective Drug Delivery Systems

14 In Focus

Identifying New Targets For Antimalaria Drugs And Vaccines

Interactive And Digital Media: A Central Component Of This 21 ST Century

Complexity: A New Science To Understand The Complex Challenges

Of Our World

Challenges And Success In Forecasting Volcanic Eruptions

22 Discoveries

26 Nanyang Technology University: Making Its Mark

28 Faces and Events

A Macro Effort On Micro-Organisms: Professor Staffan Kjelleberg

The Marketing Guru: Professor Bernd Schmitt

28 Conversations

Rock-Solid Geologist: Professor Kerry Sieh


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uilding the Observatory and Division of Earth Sciences, the

desire to make the region a safer and more sustainable place

to live.

4. What are the mission and objectives of the Earth

Observatory, and how will you achieve them

The mission of the Earth Observatory is to conduct research

on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and climate

change in and around Southeast Asia, toward safer and more

sustainable communities. We are building an exceptional team

of researchers who are keen to get their discoveries out into

the realm of hazard mitigation and adaptation.

Within the relatively short span of four years, we have attracted

a range of talents, who either are or are likely to become

leaders in their fields of research. Our ranks continue to

expand. Four new professors will join us soon, whose interests

range from earthquake-fault mechanics to volcanology,

paleoclimate and submarine tectonics.

5. You recently became the holder of a permanent

Chair in Natural Hazards at the Earth Observatory of

Singapore awarded by the AXA Research Fund that

came with an endowment of S$5 million. How will the

Earth Observatory apply this endowment

The gift from AXA Research Fund will help the Observatory

accomplish its mission by exploring partnerships that will link

our basic research to educational needs, risk assessment

and adaptation by governments and businesses, and other

practical matters.

6. How will the Earth Observatory be involved in

the planned new school for environmental sciences

at NTU

The first step in our involvement in environmental science

education at NTU has been the establishment of the

Division of Earth Sciences. We are on track to launch a new

undergraduate major programme in Earth and Environmental

Science and a minor in Environmental Sustainability in

mid-2013.

7. What are the benefits of the Earth Observatory for

Singapore and the region

As a small city-state in one of the world’s most geologically

dynamic regions, Singapore recognises the strategic

importance of understanding the geohazards of Southeast

Asia. Tsunamis can devastate neighbouring coastlines;

earthquakes have the potential to destroy urban infrastructure;

changes in precipitation and temperature and sea level are

challenging food security, and volcanic eruptions can affect

communities living at great distances. The more we know

about these hazards and the sooner we know about them,

the better we can assess their potential impact. Basically,

knowledge translates into resilience and sustainability.

8. Why does climate change pose a problem for

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

First, a large number of people live in coastal areas that are

exposed to large storms. Second, agricultural productivity will

be strongly affected by anticipated changes in rainfall and

temperature. Third, sea-level changes will swamp important

coastal areas in our region. Melting ice at high latitudes will

lead to faster rises in sea level in the Tropics than at higher

latitudes.

9. Where do you predict earthquakes will strike Asia in

the coming decades

Strictly speaking, we don’t “predict” earthquakes. Prediction

implies giving a specific time, place and magnitude for an

earthquake; scientists cannot do that. We do know that the

majority of earthquakes occur along the boundaries of Earth’s

tectonic plates.

The recent Japanese, Sumatran and Chilean earthquakes

occurred where denser oceanic plates are descending

beneath lighter continental plates along giant megathrust

faults. Our research on corals in Sumatra has enabled us to

forecast another great earthquake within the next few decades

along two particular sections of the Sumatran coast.

10. Ok, so you forecast a big earthquake for the coast

of Sumatra in the next decades. Did the last big

earthquakes offshore Aceh on April 11, 2012 change

your forecast in any way

This magnitude 8.6 earthquake took us by surprise, partly

because it occurred in a place not many of us were paying

attention to. It was the largest strike-slip fault earthquake ever

recorded – caused by horizontal movement along a fault. The

April 2012 earthquake does not change our forecasts of future

earthquakes appreciably. The data from our Sumatran GPS

Array (SuGAr) network provide important new clues that will

help EOS scientists unravel how the megathrust interacts with

the strike-slip faults on the oceanic plates.

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