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Scaling new heights

What are your thoughts on NTU being in the top               So it’s not surprising that in normalised citation impact,
league in global university rankings?                        NTU has been leading the top Asian universities in the
                                                             last two years, according to Thomson Reuters’ data.
We have been working very hard to transform NTU in           Nature ranked NTU 40th in the world and the highest-
education and research. Whilst university rankings may       ranked Singapore institution in the Nature Index Global,
be blunt instruments for measuring a university’s growth,    which tracks high-quality research output across
they offer common parameters to track the progress           the globe. As a biochemist, I’m especially proud
of different institutions. This is advantageous to young     that in 2015, NTU was ranked 9th internationally in
universities such as NTU, and we have taken many             chemistry, surpassing universities like Harvard, Oxford
big, bold strides in recent years, which are reflected       and Cambridge.
in the rankings.
                                                             Whilst critics may scoff at university academic rankings,
Quacquarelli Symonds ranked NTU 13th in the world            bibliometric data are hard facts from the labs that
in the last two years and what’s noteworthy for              recognise research quality.
Singaporean parents and students is that tiny Singapore
has two universities in the Top 15 ahead even of several     What are some notable research developments
Ivy League universities. So why go overseas for your         in the past year?
undergraduate studies when you already have world-
class education at home?                                     NTU continued to excel on the research front. Once again,
                                                             we secured more than S$500 million in competitive grants,
I think top Singaporean talents are voting with their feet.  including more than S$42 million to establish the Singapore
In AY2015, NTU saw an 89% increase in top students           Centre for 3D Printing, a hot research area globally.
enrolling, compared to AY2011.
                                                             With population ageing becoming a major issue in many
In research, is NTU now ranked the No. 1 institution         countries, including Singapore, NTU is scaling up efforts
in Singapore, as well as in Asia?                            to address some of these challenges. A new life sciences
                                                             research cluster at NTU will study the link between the
We have had several key initiatives in research that have    health of a population and the environment. This includes
paid off well. Besides attracting the most established       Singapore’s first phenome centre and a S$30 million
scientists in their respective fields, we also drew a big    institute of structural biology led by Prof Daniela Rhodes
number of promising young investigators from around          FRS, formerly of the Medical Research Council Laboratory
the world.                                                   of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

We have the lion’s share of National Research Foundation     NTU is also working with Singapore’s hospitals, as a
Fellows in Singapore and what makes me proud is that         key partner in the S$100 million Rehabilitation Research
our young investigators are getting published in high-       Institute of Singapore, set up with the Agency for
impact journals like Nature and Science. These young         Science, Technology and Research and National
researchers, who include those under NTU’s successful        Healthcare Group.
Nanyang Assistant Professorship scheme, make up
about 5% of the University’s scientists but contribute       Research in robotics and autonomous systems will get a
more than a third of our top scientific papers.              leg-up at our new joint research lab with ST Engineering.
                                                             This will improve airport operations and disaster rescue
NTU’s home-groomed talents have also done remarkable         efforts. The S$100 million Photonics Institute, a tie-up
work. In Thomson Reuters’ list of 19 of the world’s          with the University of Southampton, is one of the most
hottest scientists, only two are from Asia – David Lou       advanced of its kind in the world, and is doing very
and Zhang Hua, both nurtured at NTU.                         cutting-edge work in photonics and optics research.

forward momentum                                                                                                          9
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