NTU PPF 2018-2020

​Andrés Granados Del Águila

Andrés Granados Del Águila

School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
Email: a.granadosdelaguila@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -

Andrés Granados Del Águila is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Physics and Mathematical Sciences from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). His research interest focuses on understanding light-matter interactions in solid- and soft-matter systems by means of optical spectroscopy. After the completion of his degree in Physics at the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), he obtained his PhD in Science in 2015 from the High Field Magnet Laboratory (HFML) at the Radboud University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands). At the HFML, he was involved in high-field optical measurements, mostly focusing on the investigations of low-temperature luminescence in colloidal semiconductor heteronanocrystals. In 2016, he joined Nanyang Technological University as a postdoctoral fellow where he continued studying emergent semiconductor nanostructures through optical spectroscopy. At present, he pursues an understanding of light-induced unconventional electronic transport in atomically-thin crystals.

Research Interests: His research interest focuses on understanding light-matter interactions in solid- and soft-matter systems by means of optical spectroscopy.


PPF Project: Atomically Thin Alloyed Semiconductors: Optical Design for Unconventional Electronics
Abstract: At the nanoscopic level, new and exotic physical phenomena appear, pushing the frontier of quantum mechanics. In this regard, the interaction of light with matter is a central research topic for investigating and measuring matter at the nanoscale. A particularly interesting group of nanomaterials are semiconducting layered crystals, such as WS2, WSe2, MoS2 and MoSe2. These materials exhibit strong light emission properties when exfoliated into an atomically-thin monolayer. Furthermore, due to inherent crystal symmetries, they obey chiral optical selection rules, where illumination with right- or left-handed circularly polarized laser light can result in right- or left-handed circularly polarized fluorescence light emission, respectively. This intrinsic property is called valley polarization (VP) and enables observation of remarkable physical phenomena such as light-induced valley coherence and valley-Hall effects, though mostly at very low temperatures. However, for realizing practical next-generation valley-based optoelectronic devices, it is crucial to achieve room temperature valley polarization, which requires full control of the depolarization mechanisms. In this project, the dynamics of valley polarized excitations are investigated via optical imaging and time-resolved spectroscopy in combination with electrical transport techniques.

​Dorrain Low

Dorrain Low

Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, University of Queensland, Austrialia.
Email: dorrain.low@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Dr. Dorrain Low is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). Her research is focused on how diet and lifestyle can play a role in delaying the onset or halting the progression of age-related health disorders. Dr. Low completed her undergraduate and PhD at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), characterising the effect of sequential digestive processes on how nutrients are released from whole food structures in the gastrointestinal tract, including gut microbiota-mediated polyphenol biotransformations. This analytical expertise was applied to human health when she was awarded the AgreenSkills+ Young Incoming Fellowship (Marie-Curie Programme) to undertake a postdoctoral position in the European DCogPlast Consortium at the French National Research Institute of Agricultural Research (France), where she identified a set of 22-metabolite serum signature, including six food-derived metabolites, associated with cognitive decline in a prospective ageing (Three-City) cohort study.

Research Interests: My major research interest is applying nutrition to manage health and/or specific disease states, I am using metabolomics to elucidate associations with diet- or gut-derived metabolites, and identifying food-intake biomarkers to accurately predict specific food-related benefits. Upon ingestion, dietary compounds are transformed into thousands of metabolites, providing a complex metabolic fingerprint characteristic of a given phenotype. The exciting step is to link the food metabolome profile to changes in the gut microbiome communities to understand how these interactions are responsible for modulating the bioavailability of diet-derived metabolites on host physiology. This area represents a new avenue for nutritional recommendations in the context of prevention and treatment of age-related diseases. In addition, I am also interested in improving tools in untargeted metabolomics workflows such as the prediction of retention time of plant food bioactives in mass spectrometry methods.


PPF Project: Discovery of metabolomic signatures associated with cognitive decline for stratification and prevention of cognitive decline in an Asian population.
Abstract: With a global rise in the ageing population, the risks of age-associated diseases (i.e., cognitive decline, frailty or muscle loss) threaten the independence and quality of life for older adults, amplifying constraints on the Singapore healthcare system. Understanding how diet modify age-associated diseases represents a key avenue for prediction and treatment strategies. In my PPF, I am characterising the metabolome of healthy elderly people in Singapore (BAMMBE cohort) using a systems biology approach, to enable a better understanding of deviations from the healthy geriatric metabolome. As plant bioactive compounds derived from habitual diet exposure may have the ability to modulate age-associated diseases, I am focusing on studying the associations between diet- and gut microbial-derived metabolites, food-intake biomarkers and shifts in microbial communities.

​Genevieve Lau

Genevieve Lau

School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.
Email: genevieve.lau@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Dr Genevieve Lau is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, NTU. She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), where she developed new materials for dye-sensitized solar cells and other solar fuel devices. Prior to joining NTU, Genevieve was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale-NUS College, and she also briefly held an academic guest position at ETH Zürich. At NTU, Genevieve is establishing a new laboratory for nanoscale metal 3D printing, and her research interests include, amongst others, materials chemistry, electrocatalysis, and surface science.

Research Interests: Materials chemistry, electrocatalysis, and surface science


PPF Project: Designing a New Generation of Catalysts for a Low Temperature Haber-Bosch Process
Abstract: Catalysis is a vital technology which underpins our modern industrialized society. The applications of this science are so pervasive that approximately 80% of all materials have come into contact with a catalyst at some point or another during their lifecycle. Although humanity has learnt to exploit this phenomenon to great effect, catalyst design, and in particular heterogeneous catalyst design, remains as much art as science. In order to advance our understanding of chemical reactivity at the interface and the laws that govern them, new tools and techniques with greater spatial and chemical resolution are desperately required. My project at NTU seeks to employ state-of-the-art additive manufacturing techniques for the bottom-up synthesis of three-dimensional nanomaterials. This will provide chemists unprecedented freedom to design and control catalyst morphology at the nanoscale, and allow us to build a more complete picture about how structure and reactivity are correlated.
​Guy Sherwin Jacobs

Guy Sherwin Jacobs

Complexity Institute, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, University of Southampton, UK.
Email: guysjacobs@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -
(Now with University of Cambridge, UK)


Dr Jacobs studied biological anthropology at the University of Cambridge before completing his PhD in Complex Systems Simulation at Southampton University.

Research Interests: -


PPF Project: The evolutionary impact of archaic introgression in island southeast Asia
Abstract: My PPF project studies signals of archaic introgression in modern human genetic data, and seeks to investigate archaic introgression among island Southeast Asian populations, using modern genomic data to investigate both the history and, crucially, the evolutionary and phenotypic impact of introgression. The introgression process introduced large amounts of evolutionarily divergent genetic variation into the human genome, especially in island Southeast Asia and Oceania, with important effects on immunity, fertility and disease.
​Jerry Zhu Jinlin

Jerry Zhu Jinlin

School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Zhejiang University, China.
Email: jerry.zhu@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Jinlin Zhu received his PhD degree in Control Science and Engineering from Zhejiang University, China, in 2016. He was then the postdoctoral visiting scholar with the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Currently, he is the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow with the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research interests include machine learning, industrial process modelling, monitoring and fault diagnosis.

Research Interests: Machine learning, Industrial process modelling, monitoring and fault diagnosis.


PPF Project:Secure Mobile Cyber-Physical Systems through Deep Behaviour Pattern Analysis
Abstract: The industrial cyber-physical systems have become extremely popular and are potentially important data sources for various civil and commercial applications. CPS coordinates computational, virtual, and physical resources and facilitates the interaction of digital world with physical world, potentially driving the pervasive effect in the citizens’ everyday life anytime and anywhere. Because of this, the safety and security problem has become a common key and urgent challenge for CPS. In this research plan, we propose the advanced statistical modelling and monitoring framework based on deep learning so that the system will remain functional and operate reliably in the presence of unforeseen malfunctions and possibly external adversaries.
​Karen Helen Lythgoe

Karen Helen Lythgoe

Earth Observatory of Singapore, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, University of Cambridge, UK.
Homepage: https://earthobservatory.sg/people/karen-lythgoe


Karen Lythgoe is a seismologist who uses seismic data to understand Earth’s structure and processes. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge on the structure and dynamics of the Earth’s inner core. Karen then joined the seismic imaging research and development team at BP in London. She holds a MSci in geophysics from the University of Leeds.

Research Interests: My research uses innovative seismic methods to illuminate Earth’s interior and earthquake processes. In particular, I use arrays of seismic nodes to record microseismicity and aftershocks following large earthquakes. The seismic nodes are also used for structural imaging using a variety of techniques, such as utilising the ambient noise. My current research locations include Singapore, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Lombok.


PPF Project: Seismic hazard and tectonic structure of Northern Sumatra
Abstract: Key scientific questions remain unanswered about fault activity in Sumatra, resulting in a largely uncertain seismic hazard. Aceh is the most tectonically complex and seismically active area of Sumatra, with several recent destructive earthquakes occurring, and so my attention is focused there. A deployment of short period seismic nodes in Aceh will be used to address several key questions by 1) delineating active faults and their locking depths, 2) validating the geodetic observation of a creeping zone along the Sumatran Fault, and 3) characterising the tectonic setting including features such as the restraining bend in the Sumatran Fault and the link between subduction, volcanism and strike-slip faulting.
​Kokil Jaidka

Kokil Jaidka

Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
(Now with National University of Singapore, Singapore)


Dr. Kokil Jaidka is the incoming Assistant Professor in Computational Communication at the National University of Singapore (Jan 2020). As a Presidential Postdoctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University Singapore (2018-2020), Kokil’s project explored the relationship of social media use with psychological stress and subjective well-being. Before this, Kokil was a postdoctoral research fellow in the World Well-Being Project at the University of Pennsylvania for two years, and a data scientist in digital marketing for Adobe Research India for three years. Kokil’s research focus is on the role of social media platforms in enabling self-presentation and social behavior. She is particularly interested in developing computational models of language for the measurement and understanding of computer-mediated communication.

Research Interests: Social media, language and discourse, computer-mediated communication


PPF Project: The role of social media in buffering stress and mental well-being: a study of Singapore's children and youth
Abstract: I propose to evaluate how social media and mobile applications can be used to monitor individuals’ well-being, and push interventions to help them cope with stress issues. Studies have found that individuals commonly use Facebook for heightened interpersonal connectivity and fast and easy communication with their friends. Younger users are also more likely to disclose personal information on Facebook than older users (Jaidka et. al, 2018; van Hoof, Bekkers, & van Vuuren, 2014). Personal disclosure helps social media users to improve their online relationships with an increase in enacted and perceived social support (Zhang, 2017) and alleviates symptoms of poor mental health in a young population (Pittman & Reich, 2016). For health communication research, personal disclosures on social media provide a way to predict individuals' personality (Schwartz et al., 2013), health (Guntuku et. al, 2019; Manikonda & De Choudhury, 2017; Schwartz et al., 2014; Simoncic et al., 2014) and risk behavior, such as alcohol use (van Hoof et al, 2014), with reasonable accuracy. At the community level, studies in the United States have shown that supervised models trained on social media language can be predictive of regional health statistics (Eichstaedt et al., 2015; Culotta, 2014). My research proposal aims to evaluate the effectiveness of social media and mobile technologies in the outreach of, measurement of and management of well-being in Singapore, and offer a cross-national comparison with other countries. This study focuses on two objectives: (a) Exploring the role of social media in well-being and stress (b) Exploring the effectiveness of social media behavior with wellbeing & stress management
​Lakshmi Narayan Ramasubramanian

Lakshmi Narayan Ramasubramanian

School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Indian Institute of Science, India.
Homepage: -
(Now with Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India)


Dr. Lakshmi Narayan R received a Ph.D. degree in Materials Engineering from Indian Institute of Science in 2015, where he received the K.P. Abraham Gold Medal for the Best Thesis for his work on fracture and deformation on metallic glasses and composites. Following that he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, USA and a part-time visiting scientist at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. During this stint he worked in the field of in situ mechanical testing in the TEM and tested both crystalline and amorphous metals and composites. For his academic services he was also awarded the outstanding reviewer for the Journals Acta Materialia and Scripta Materialia twice, in 2014 and 2018. Currently, he works on understanding the structure-property correlations in 3D printed metals and alloys (Ti, Al, Steels) and conducts fracture and fatigue tests as well as small scale tests such as nanoindentation on them.


Research Interests: Structure-property correlations in high strength advanced materials, fracture and fatigue of 3D printed alloys, Mechanical behavior of materials


PPF Project: Understanding defect evolution and structure at multiple length scales to improve mechanical properties of 3D printed metals and composites
Abstract: The combination of a mesoscopic and heterogeneous microstructure coupled with porosity and thermally induced residual stresses has a telling influence on the mechanical properties of Additively manufactured alloys. While the yield strength of components is marginally affected by these defects, the fracture toughness increases significantly. However, the greatest cause of concern is the reduction in ductility and fatigue endurance of the component.Considering the above-mentioned issues, the objective of my research proposal is to further study and develop a deeper understanding of processing-microstructure-property relationships in AM metals and alloys. For this, the development of melt-pools and how their clustering affects the mechanical properties of the build will be investigated. Then, the mesoscale structure would be fine tuned to get the best combination of mechanical properties. A statistical study on the reliability of toughness and fatigue endurance will be conducted. Small scale testing will be used to investigate how local properties of the material inside meltpools varies from that of the bulk.
​Maiko Uesaki

Maiko Uesaki

School of Social Sciences, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Kyoto University, Japan.
Email: maiko.uesaki@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


After graduating from the University of York with a BSc in Psychology, Dr Maiko Uesaki did her PhD at Kyoto University. During her PhD, she has also spent time at Charité – Universitätsmediz in Berlin, and Stanford University. She then worked at Ritsumeikan University, before joining the Visual Perception Lab in 2018.

Research Interests:Visual motion processing, multisensory integration, self-motion perception and navigation


PPF Project: Optic-flow Processing and Navigation in the Intraparietal Cortex: Combination of Anatomical, Retinotopic and Functional Brain Mapping Techniques
Abstract: -
​Nguyen Ta Toan Khoa

Nguyen Ta Toan Khoa

School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Email: khoantt@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: https://sites.google.com/view/khoantt/


Dr Khoa Nguyen received his PhD degree in cryptography in 2014, at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. His research interests are in the area of post-quantum cryptography, especially the design and analysis of privacy-preserving cryptographic protocols from lattices and codes. He has published 28 papers, 13 of which are at prestigious conferences held by the International Association of Cryptologic Research (IACR), such as EUROCRYPT, CRYPTO, ASIACRYPT and PKC. According to the IACR Publishing Statistics, Khoa Nguyen is ranked in the Top 100 cryptography researchers of the whole world in the period 2015--2019, in terms of publications at IACR conferences. He has been co-supervising 4 PhD students (2 of which have graduated), and has been serving in the Program Committees of 15 international conferences in cryptography and security, including ASIACRYPT 2017, 2018 and 2019. Recently, he was appointed as a Program Co-Chair of ProvSec 2020 – the 14th International Conference on Provable and Practical Security.

Research Interests:
• Post-quantum cryptography, in particular, lattice-based and code-based constructions
• Privacy-preserving cryptographic protocols, with focus on protecting anonymity and enabling


PPF Project: Post-Quantum Cryptography: Designing Secure and Practical Privacy-Preserving Systems
Abstract: My current research projects aim to design practical post-quantum cryptographic systems that protect both security and privacy of users in the long-term future. Cryptography is the science of securing information and is ubiquitously used nowadays to secure all kinds of electronic communications. Most of these applications, however, crucially rely on a class of cryptosystems that will become insecure once large-scale quantum computers become a reality. To thwart this threat, the community is paying special attention to post-quantum cryptography, i.e., cryptosystems that are believed to remain secure even in the presence of quantum computers. Along with security, protecting users’ privacy is a prime concern in the digital era. To address this problem, privacy-preserving cryptosystems, i.e., advanced algorithms guaranteeing both security and privacy, have been proposing since the early 1980s but have not been well-prepared for the upcoming transition to post-quantum cryptography. My projects aim to develop new cryptographic tools and techniques that can be used for the designs of practically relevant privacy-preserving cryptosystems in the post-quantum setting.
​Olusegun K. Abass

Olusegun K. Abass

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.
Email: okabass@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Dr. Olusegun K. Abass is an Environmental Engineer and a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University. He is also an elected fellow of the CAS-TWAS international fellowship based in China and Italy. He received his PhD in Environmental Engineering at the famous Chinese Academy of Science, China. His current research focuses on development of novel multifunctional nanomaterials and 2D quantum-based membranes for environmental applications. Currently, he strives to bridge the gap between advances in materials sciences and their application in various environmental matrices. His futuristic idea is to create an enabling environment for an all-inclusive human health and well-being.

Research Interests: Environmental Catalysis, Water and Wastewater treatment, Heterogeneous photocatalysis, Membrane synthesis and application


PPF Project: Pulse charge supply via integrated solar and microbial fuel cells power systems to electrical conductive membranes for membrane fouling mitigation in membrane bioreactor systems
Abstract: The discovery of engineered nanomaterials such as single-atom catalyst (SACs) and single layered graphene in 2004 via atom-by-atom deposition and aggregate isolation respectively, has increased the impetus for SACs and 2D-layered nanomaterials utilization owing to their distinctive surficial properties relative to their bulk form. This breakthrough opened new possibilities for extensive research on all engineered nanomaterials, and has stimulated new science and technology across a huge range of fields. My research focuses on synthesis of these emerging engineered nanomaterials and demonstrates their novel applications for efficient energy generation and water/wastewater treatment and reuse.
​Parth Vashishtha

Parth Vashishtha

School of Materials Sciences and Engineering, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Email: pvashishtha@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Dr Parth Vashishtha is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow (PPF) at School of Materials Science and Engineering, NTU. His current research project is focused on synthesising novel lead free perovskite nanocrystals in order to build thin film optoelectronic devices. He started his research career at University of South Australia, where he completed his Masters project on non-toxic quantum dots with Prof Thomas Nann. He then worked in the group of Prof Jonathan E. Halpert on “Nanostructured Metal Halide Perovskites for Optoelectronic Applications” and attained his PhD at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He also worked on Si quantum dots in Prof Jonathan Veinot’s group at University of Alberta, Canada as an Academic Visiting Researcher. He is currently in collaboration with University of Warwick, HKUST, and University of Alberta for his current research projects.

Research Interests: Finding novel semiconductor nanocrystals such as perovskites and chalcogenides for superior optical properties. Fabrication of optoelectronic devices including LEDs, Solar cells, and photodetector.


PPF Project: Non-Toxic Solution-Processed Cs2AgInX6 and Cs2InBiX6 (x = Cl, Br) Direct Bandgap Halide Perovskite Nanocrystals (NCs) for Optoelectronic Applications
Abstract: Halide perovskites are promising materials for deployment in optoelectronic devices. Recently, these compounds achieved efficiencies comparable to Si solar technology and nanocrystalline light emitting diodes (LEDs). However, the best performing perovskites contain toxic lead. Consequently, research towards the formulation lead-free perovskites has been intensive, but to date, such materials have proven inferior to the plumbous analogues. For example, Sn-based perovskites, such as CsSnX3 (X = Cl, Br, I), offer one alternative. However, Sn is unstable in the 2+ oxidation state and is easily oxidized to 4+ under ambient conditions which destabilises the perovskite.1Of greater concern, CsSnX3 nanocrystals do not have reasonable quantum yield or stability due to the presence of intrinsic crystal defects. A more promising approach is to use non-toxic double perovskites and cesium copper halide type distorted perovskite materials, that due to their high thermodynamic and kinetic stability, can retain their integrity over a wide range of conditions. Nonetheless challenges remain the same. Therefore, the proposed research will focus on discovering double perovskites based on Cs2InBiX6and Cs2AgInX6 prototype nanocrystals (NCs) exhibiting direct band gaps of 0.28–2.01 eV, thermodynamic stability against decomposition,5and small effective masses. Similarly, cesium copper iodide has found to be a promising materials with efficient PL quantum yield for lighting applications.
​Samuel Perks

Samuel Perks

School of Humanities, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, University of Leeds, UK.
Email: sperks@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: -


Samuel Perks works at the intersection of world-literary studies, postcolonial studies, and the environmental humanities. His work to date has explored historical fiction, representations of coal in Joseph Conrad’s fiction, and Singapore literature and the Garden City drive. His current research examines global cities in the field of world-literature, the dynamics of choice in the work of Teo Hsu-Ming, and transnational entrepreneur narratives. Samuel is the chair of the Global Cities in World Literature seminar series, which features international speakers from various fields. Past speakers include John McLeod, Sharae Deckard, Loh Kah Seng, and Ben Derudder. He teaches the undergraduate course HL3041 Global Cities in World Literature in the School of Humanities, and supervises FYPs interested in postcolonial and Singapore literature. He has previously taught Postcolonial Literature, Renaissance Literature, Poetry, and Writing Critically at the University of Leeds, where he has also given lectures on the Writing the Environment module.

Research Interests:
• World-literature • Postcolonial literature • Environmental humanities • Singapore literature • Urban studies and global city studies


PPF Project: The Global City in World Literature: Singaporean Culture and Ecology
Abstract: For a global city, ‘the world is its hinterland’ (Rajaratnam). Global cities host a concentration of multinational corporations’ headquarters and attract people, capital, and resources from across the world. Whilst the dynamic between global cities and their global hinterlands has been conceptualised in economic and sociological theory, the ways in which this relationship is imagined in literature have not been explored in such depth. This research would analyse the literature of the global city of Singapore to examine representations of global city metabolism, from a world-systemic and literary-critical perspective. It shall seek to answer the following questions: what is the relation between world literature and global city literature? How is the global city’s relation to its hinterland imagined? And what can this reveal about the ecological relations that underpin the world-system?
​Serafino Teseo

Serafino Teseo

School of Biological Sciences, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, Paris XIII University, France.
Email: steseo@ntu.edu.sg
Homepage: http://serafinoteseo.wixsite.com/serafino


Serafino Teseo is a behavioural ecologist specialized in insect social evolution. He has obtained his PhD in Animal Behaviour at Paris 13 University, France, in 2013, working on ants. Before joining NTU, he worked at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and then at Paris Diderot University. As a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, he explores the role of gut microbes in social behaviour using ants as a model system. His research integrates classic experimental approaches to animal behaviour with state-of-the-art techniques to measure the emergent properties of interactive networks of individuals. He believes that using mini-brained highly social organisms such as ants may help understanding how gut symbiotic microbes affects socially relevant behaviours in all animals, including humans.

Research Interests: Animal behaviour, Social Evolution, Gut Microbiota


PPF Project: A social perspective on the microbiota-gut-brain axis: ants as a model organism
Abstract: Disentangling the microbiota-gut-brain cross-talk is a compelling challenge in behavioural neurosciences. However, most experimental work in this field is limited to individuals without considering social dynamics. Animals and humans live instead in societies where they iteratively adjust physiology and behaviour to social interactions. Therefore, to integrate the group-level dimension in our investigation, we need obligate social animal models living in stable symbioses with microbes, and that can be easily manipulated. In my Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, I experimentally manipulate the symbiosis between Camponotus carpenter ants and the bacterium Blochmannia. The goal of my research is to determine how microbes shape the behaviour of individuals, and how this translates into effects on social interactions and group-level behaviour.
​Soujanya Poria

Soujanya Poria

School of Computer Science and Engineering, NTU
Previous Affiliation: PhD, University of Stirling, UK.
(Now with Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore)


Soujanya Poria is an assistant professor of ISTD at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of Stirling, UK. He was a recipient of the prestigious early career research award called 'NTU Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship' in 2018 which offered him a research grant worth S$200,000. Before taking up his presidential fellowship position at the NTU, Soujanya was a scientist at the A*STAR and the Temasek Laboratory, NTU. He is also (co-)PI of multiple academic and industrial grants with the amount totaling to S$2 million. Soujanya has co-authored more than 80 papers, published in top-tier conferences and journals such as ACL, EMNLP, AAAI, NAACL, Neurocomputing, Computational Intelligence Magazine, etc.. He is also an adjunct faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, India and an adjunct scientist at A*STAR, Singapore. Soujanya served as a senior PC member at AAAI 2019, IJCAI 2019 and often serve as a PC member at reputed conferences such as ACL, EMNLP, IJCAI, NAACL. He was an area co-chair at ACL 2020, NAACL 2019, EMNLP 2019 and a publicity chair at *SEM 2019. Soujanya has given several invited talks at venues like CICLing 2018 which is a large international NLP conference, SocialNLP 2019. Soujanya has Google Scholar citations of more than 6000 and his h-index is 39. One of Soujanya's papers is listed as the top 0.1% highly cited papers indexed by Web of Science. Three of Soujanya's papers are listed as Web of Science top 1% highly cited papers in the field of Computer Science. Recently, in an article published in the Journal of Information Sciences, Soujanya has been listed as one of the most prolific and impactful researchers from 2000 to 2016 in the field of sentiment analysis.


Research Interests: Deep learning, Natural Language Processing, Emotion Recognition, Semantics, Sentiment Analysis


PPF Project: Affective multimodal human-computer interaction for intelligent conversational agents
Abstract: Intelligent conversational agents (chatbots) enable efficient interaction of users with information systems in various scenarios, such as product search and services, hotel management, tourism, ticketing, or customer management for healthcare applications. This effectively bridges the gap between complex information technologies with the vast majority of non-computer-savvy users. However, current agents are unable to conduct natural, emotionally consistent and coherent conversation since they lack emotional sensitivity—a crucial component of natural human interaction. Specifically, they are unable to infer the user’s information need from her emotional state (user: “what, burgers again?!”, with the facial expression of disgust). This results in the inability to express adequate emotional components of natural interaction in their responses. In this project, I will leverage emotional factors and psychological personality type cues for conducting an effective and emotionally driven natural dialogue in a multimodal setting i.e., recognition of the users' emotions from their words, facial expressions, and emotional clues in their voice, with subsequent response generation, using emotionally adequate words. To this end, I plan to study the role of emotions and personality in dialogue systems and develop algorithms for multimodal emotion recognition and generation.