Outstanding Performance by Singapore Team at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014


The Ministry of Education (MOE), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Science Centre Singapore congratulate the Singapore Team on their outstanding performance at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014 held in Los Angeles, California, the United States of America (USA) from 11 to 16 May 2014. The Singapore team submitted four individual projects and two team projects and achieved outstanding results despite strong competition from the other international finalists.

For the first time, a student from Singapore, Shannon Lee Xinjing from National Junior College, had received the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award. This is a prestigious award presented only to two finalists from the winners of the 17 scientific categories of the ISEF. The award carries a prize worth US$50,000. She also won the Intel Best of Category Award, as well as the First Award in the category of Energy and Transportation for her project titled “Nature Derived Carbon Microsheets as Efficient Electrocatalyst for Energy Storage”, receiving cash prizes of US$5,000 and US$3,000 respectively. In this project, Shannon developed a novel electrocatalyst for zinc-air batteries that will go a long way to improve the stability of rechargeable zinc-air batteries. She discovered that activated carbonised Chinese eggplant functions as a more stable electrocatalyst as compared to the catalysts that are commercially available. The electrocatalyst that is produced from plant material will also be environmentally friendly and inexpensive. Shannon conducted this research under the supervision of Dr Li Bing and Dr Geng Dongsheng from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR.

Mark Lim Kit from Raffles Institution won the Third Award in the category of Microbiology for his project titled “Improved Multiplexed Automated Genome Engineering through Directed Evolution”, under the supervision of Dr Justin Meyer and Professor Roy Kishony from the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. In his project, Mark seeks to improve the efficiency of a novel genetic engineering technique. He received a cash prize of US$1,000. Mark also won a Special Award and received a Fourth Award of cash prize US$750 from the American Society for Microbiology.

Vanessa Tan Yun Han from Dunman High School won the Fourth Award in the category of Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering for her project titled “Give a Hand: Designing and Developing a Neuroprosthetic Hand”, under the supervision of Mr Chin Zheng Yang from the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), A*STAR. In her project, she designed and developed a brain-controlled prosthetic hand to help restore hand-grasp function to tetraplegic patients. She received a cash prize of US$500.

Another individual project, titled “Characterisation and Engineering of Squid Sucker Ring Teeth Polymer Proteins”, in the category of Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering, was submitted by Dousabel Tay May Yi from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. She investigated the potential of squid sucker ring teeth as a new sustainable biomaterial under the supervision of Dr Shawn Hoon and Mr Kock Kian Hong from the Molecular Engineering Laboratory, A*STAR.

Lim Ee Chuan Eliot, Ou Yang Zhong Liang and Yu Shiyang from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science won the Fourth Award in the Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical category for their project involving the development of a viable Solid State Fan that has no moving parts and uses oscillating electric fields to move air. They received a cash prize of US$500. The students initiated this project and worked on it under the supervision of their teacher-mentor from the school, Dr Chiam Sher-Yi. The team also won two Special Awards; a Second Award of cash prize US$250 from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and a cash prize of US$1,200 from the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST).

The other team project, Screening for Genetic Polymorphism in GRIN2B Gene in Patients Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology was submitted by Ong Jun Yi and Jeremy Goh Jin Quan from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. In their project, they seek to improve the diagnosis of bipolar disorder using genetic markers in the GRIN2B gene under the supervision of Associate Professor Low Chian Ming from the Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore (NUS).

The Singapore Team was led by Mr Gary Neo Wei Chung, Curriculum Planning Officer, MOE.

The Singapore Team was chosen from top awardees in the Singapore Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) held in March this year. SSEF is a national competition jointly organised by MOE, ASTAR and Science Centre Singapore. The winners of SSEF are also eligible to participate in the ASTAR Talent Search (ATS).

The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science fair held annually to provide a platform for top science and engineering talents of different nationalities to showcase their projects. This year, the competition attracted 1,787 finalists from close to 80 countries, regions and territories. ISEF is often regarded as the “Olympics” of the science research competitions and fairs. There are 17 scientific categories in the Intel ISEF and within each category, the Best of Category, First, Second, Third and Fourth awards are given out. Further to that, two finalists from amongst the 17 winners of the Best of Category will be awarded the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards. These finalists are selected for their commitment to innovation in tackling challenging scientific questions, using authentic research practices, and creating solutions to the problems of tomorrow.