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lab members

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

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Eleanor M. Slade

I am an ecologist, whose research focuses on the challenges and opportunities associated with conservation, management, and restoration of tropical forest landscapes and human-modified systems. I am particularly interested in “the little things that run the world”, and my research focuses on the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, with a particular emphasis on invertebrate diversity and community interactions.

 

Much of my research has focused on using dung beetles as model systems but I have worked on a range of taxa from moths and woodlice to hornbills and small mammals in both tropical (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Brazil) and temperate (UK, Finland) environments. I am also interested in the development of policy and best practice in the oil palm industry and I am working with government agencies and NGOs engaged in land-use planning in Sabah, Malaysia.

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PROJECT OFFICER

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Marx Yim

I am project officer for the Tropical Ecology and Entomology Lab (TEE Lab) at ASE. My work focuses on providing stakeholder in Southeast Asia with the capacity use of dung beetles as bioindicators for both academic research and citizen science. This work is done mainly through the creation and maintenance of specimen/ species-level dung beetle databases and datasets, digitising collections to create high-resolution keys and photographic guides, and supporting the various undergraduate and postgraduate studies out in the field and in the lab.

 

With an interest in science communication, I am keen on using photography and videography to realise the hidden value of personal experiences through documentation in scientific research. I am also interested in promoting collection based natural history biodiversity to raise awareness of the importance of biological collections towards scientific discoveries

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

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Sean Yap

I am research assistant / fellow with the TEE lab who has a keen interest in entomology and molecular ecology. I will be assisting with the taxonomy and inventorising of dung beetle species in Singapore, as well as studying the soil invertebrate fauna of peat swamps in Brunei using molecular tools.

 

I have a soft spot for lesser-studied insect groups such as earwigs and mantisflies, though most of my experience thus far has been with beetles. Prior to my current position, I graduated from NUS having done my honours thesis with the Evolutionary Biology Lab surveying the beetle diversity of Singapore with DNA barcoding and Next-generation Sequencing, and further examined the reproductive evolution of dung beetles in Singapore and Malaysia in the Reproductive Evolution Lab for my PhD.

 

When not baking outfield or shivering in the lab, I am usually found falling off the walls in a bouldering gym or falling on my butt rollerblading in a skatepark. I am also currently accepting challenges in Pokemon battles. My favourite tea is a toss up between chai tea, burmese tea and thai milk tea, though my most frequent order is teh O kosong.

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW

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Chiew Li Yuen

I am a postdoc with the TEE Lab and the South East Asian Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) based in Sabah, Malaysia. I am co-ordinating research on riparian reserves in oil palm plantations and their benefits for biodiversity versus potential for spreading pests and diseases such as rhinoceros beetles and Ganoderma fungus.

I recently completed my PhD at the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah. My PhD research focused on how dung beetle–mammal interaction networks change across a land-use gradient in Sabah. In addition, I investigated dung beetle diet preferences based on chemical cues, and the consequences of biodiversity and land-use change for ecosystem processes and functionality such as dung removal, herbivore predation, seed predation, and bioturbation.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

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Nadine Keller

I am a PhD candidate at Ecosystem Management Group, Department of Environmental System Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). My study aims to determine which forest properties influence the performance of ecosystem functions in tropical forests.

 

In my study, I am measuring hydrological ecosystem functions, such as throughfall and infiltration capacity, and testing whether they can be improved with the help of dung beetle tunneling activity. Furthermore, I am investigating ecosystem functions related to carbon and nutrient cycling to understand how active restoration influenced natural forest dynamics.

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Ong Xin Rui

I am a PhD candidate at NTU ASE. I was introduced to the fascinating world of dung beetles during my undergraduate years in NUS. For my PhD, I am studying the interaction network between dung beetle and mammal communities in the rainforest canopy, which will be constructed using a novel method of DNA metabarcoding of dung beetle gut contents for mammal DNA.

 

I will also assemble a database of distribution, traits and molecular barcodes of Southeast Asian dung beetles, which would help in overcoming the current taxonomic impediments of dung beetle research in the region.

In my spare time, I enjoy travelling, exploring places of nature, and jamming songs on the guitar. My favourite tea is bubble tea.

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Tharaka S. Priyadarshana

I am a PhD candidate at NTU ASE. My primary research interest is agroecology. The main aim of my research interest is to identify economically attractive ways to boost agrobiodiversity. For my Master’s, I studied the responses of beneficial insect communities to crop heterogeneity components (crop composition and configuration) in subtropical farmlands.

 

I enjoy developing statistical models, using both biological and functional diversity metrics, that enhance forecasting capabilities. I am also passionate about the taxonomy and conservation of wild orchids.

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Tabitha Hui

I enjoy applying research to resolve current environmental issues, thus my double life as both a researcher and consultant. At NTU, I am a PhD candidate in ASE. My research project is on the impacts of roads and wildlife crossings on small mammal community structure, movement, roadkills and population connectivity and genetics in Peninsular Malaysia.

As a Senior Environmental Consultant at Tembusu Asia Consulting, I advise on all kinds of environmental and sustainability issues, including conducting coastal, marine and terrestrial EIA, EIS, BIA, EMMP, ecological baseline and feasibility studies and due diligence projects.

When I am not doing the above I enjoy hiking, diving, flying and taking photos of Niviventers.

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Calvin Leung

I’m a PhD candidate at NTU ASE. I’m born to like insects, particularly for beetles. I started learning about beetles by keeping exotic rhinoceros beetles and stag beetles as pets, but as I witnessed how unsustainable the beetle pet industry is, I stopped keeping them but preferred spending more time in observing and studying them in the wild. I later realised how little we knew about the ecology of these charismatic creatures despite their popularity. I therefore hope to reveal the importance of saproxylic beetles, so that people would acknowledge these beetles as crucial members in the ecosystem rather than luxurious display or pets. In my PhD, I would quantify the nutrient cycling associated with saproxylic insects and their novel roles as bioengineers. My research will not only confined to tropical forests in Singapore, but also in peat swamp forests in Brunei.

 

During my leisure time, I love to go on wildlife watching, learning more about how different taxa interact within the ecosystem (and yes, my work is my hobby). Apart from insects, I’m also a big fan of oaks (Family Fagaceae). For non-ecology hobbies, I like playing squash.

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Xu Xuan

I am a PhD candidate at Carbon & Sustainable Forest Management (C&SFM) Lab, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, China. My research interests focus on forest litter decomposition and soil carbon cycle, especially the effects of soil fauna.

 

In my study, I measured the litter mass loss and nutrient release from different mesh size litterbags, and tested the contribution of soil fauna on it in a poplar plantation. Furthermore, I am trying to include soil fauna module into emerging models of SOM formation.

 

Currently I am studying in NTU ASE as an exchange student from Dec. 2021 to Dec. 2022. I enjoy traveling, jogging and watching movies in my spare time.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

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Alexis Goh

I am a Year 4 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science. For my URECA and Final Year Projects, I am studying how Singapore’s local Nature Ways operate as green corridors to facilitate faunal movement between our parks and reserves. I seek to elucidate the environmental factors that affect Nature Way success, particularly for butterflies and bees.

In my free time, I enjoy sharing the wonder of our local wildlife through nature guiding and photography. I also enjoy web design, drawing, and gaming.

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Tay Li Si

I am a Year 4 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science. My project involves looking at the soil-leaf litter macrofauna across restored, secondary, and primary forests to determine if forest restoration is helpful in improving soil-leaf litter macrofauna biodiversity.

Macrofauna such as ants, termites, millipedes, snails, and more are important ecological/soil engineers, especially in tropical ecosystems such as in Singapore. They play an important role in improving the quality of soil by burrowing and mixing the soil and nutrient cycling by breaking down dead wood, leaf litter and even dung. Studies have shown that disturbances in the forest, such as selective logging, can affect the diversity and abundance of macrofauna which can in turn affect the ecosystem services they offer. Hence, my project seeks to investigate the important of such forest restoration efforts in restoring the macrofauna diversity.

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Zann Teo

I am a Year 3 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science. I am currently working on the creation of a species checklist of dung beetles in Singapore through sampling in forests and parks, and will then be carrying out DNA barcoding and collection of morphological traits from collected individuals. The species checklist of Singapore dung beetles can then act as a record of species present in Singapore and provide taxonomic information for future studies. 

In my first year, I investigated the spatial and temporal turner of dung beetle populations in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia.

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Clarice Yan

I am a Year 2 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science. My project focuses on identifying areas for conservation using key species as indicators with the software Marxan.

 

Although several protected areas such as the Central Catchment Nature Reserve have been identified, there are still a lot of non-protected areas that are crucial for maintaining local biodiversity. By starting with analysing the diversity of birds and butterflies in these areas over the past few decades, I hope to identify currently non-protected areas that should be prioritised in Singapore's next Green Masterplan.

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Shawn Ang

Hello! I am a Year 3 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science, Public Policy, and Global Affairs. I am investigating how morphological traits (e.g., feeding traits, defense traits) in terrestrial isopods vary along different forest types and plant compositions.

 

Knowing how these traits vary in leaf litter invertebrates such as isopods could eventually facilitate a better understanding of broader ecosystem processes and functions such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, explain distribution of such invertebrates, and predict how environmental changes will affect these functionally important organisms.

 

Outside of academics, I'm interested in citizen science, activism & communications, and natural history. I like to go on hikes and bird/insectwatching walks!

ALUMNI