Published on 03 Apr 2023

Gearing up to meet future needs

NTU researchers in fields from medicine to learning sciences have won competitive grants to tackle future challenges.

NTU researchers in fields from medicine to learning sciences have won competitive grants to tackle future challenges


To prepare for future outbreaks in the wake of COVID-19, a Singapore team of  scientists led by NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) has joined a United States programme to  develop drugs against viruses with a high chance of causing pandemics.

These include the SARS-CoV-2,  dengue and Zika viruses.

The team won a competitive five-year  grant from the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  (NIAID). The grant is part of a larger funding effort by NIAID announced in May 2022 to  speed up development of antiviral drugs against pandemic diseases. The aim is  to create drugs that patients can take at home when their symptoms are mild.

Leading the Singapore team is  structural virology expert Assoc Prof Luo Dahai from LKCMedicine. He is joined by Dr Liew Chong Wai from the NTU Institute  of Structural Biology.


Some of the biggest earthquakes recorded have occurred in Southeast Asia. The  region’s dense population is also exposed to more than 750 active or potentially  active volcanoes. Understanding how these natural events work helps communities  prepare for upcoming natural disasters.

Traditionally, volcanoes, tectonic  faults and related phenomena such as tsunamis and landslides have been treated  as independent natural systems. But scientists believe they are related and  often happen concurrently.

Researchers led by Prof Emma Hill, Chair of NTU’s Asian School of the Environment and a principal investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, will  study these natural disasters collectively to uncover the links between regional  tectonics and volcanoes, and the impact of these natural disasters on Southeast Asian  communities, which includes infrastructure damage and deaths.

Dubbed “Integrating Volcano and  Earthquake Science Technology (InVEST) in Southeast Asia”, the five-year study  began in November 2022 and is funded by Singapore’s Ministry of Education.


Singapore has been fighting the dengue scourge for years and, more recently,  COVID-19. Now, a project involving researchers from Singapore and France  aims to develop a new way to predict when and where these infectious diseases occur  in Singapore and prevent them. 

Named “Shaping Public Adaptive  Capacity for Environmental infectious diseases (SPACE)”, the research project  started in April 2022 and is co-led by Prof Shirley Ho, Associate Vice President  (Humanities, Social Sciences & Research Communication), together with Prof  Natacha Aveline from CNRS@CREATE in Singapore. CNRS@CREATE is the first  overseas subsidiary of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

The three-year Intra-CREATE project is funded by the Singapore Government’s  National Research Foundation. 

SPACE also seeks to develop policy  ideas to improve Singapore’s ability to prevent and mitigate diseases, along with  improving how the Singapore Government communicates its measures to mitigate  and control epidemics.


Organisations have developed augmented reality (AR) apps that allow people to  point their phones’ cameras at locations and overlay digital information on their  phone screen views.

Is it possible for AR to be implemented  in primary and secondary schools to help students learn subjects such as science  and Chinese? Can AR help improve a student’s academic performance? This is  the focus of a five-year research project under Asst Prof Wen Yun from the National Institute of Education’s Learning Sciences and Assessment Academic Group.

The project was awarded the Social  Science and Humanities Research Fellowship from Singapore’s Social Science  Research Council in June 2022.

The study is expected to provide  insight into how AR can be used to develop teaching strategies to meet  students’ needs, inform the design of lessons inside and outside classrooms,  and identify factors that support or hinder teachers in crafting and implementing  AR-based lessons.

The article appeared first in NTU's research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #21, December 2022).