Singapore (National University of Singapore) Three NUS scientists honoured as Asia’s most outstanding researchers

Three exceptional scientists from NUS have been honoured in the 2023 Asian Scientist 100 list for their ground-breaking research and achievements. These researchers are: Professor Liu Bin, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology); Professor Hong Wan Jin from the Department of Biochemistry under the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; and Assistant Professor Koh Ming Joo from the Department of Chemistry under the NUS Faculty of Science.

Compiled by the Asian Scientist Magazine, this annual list recognises the efforts and achievements of Asia’s exceptional scientific talents. This year’s honourees should have either received been awarded a national or international prize in 2022, achieved a significant accomplishment such as a scientific discovery, or demonstrated leadership that advances scientific enterprise.

Professor Liu Bin

A multi-hyphenate, Prof Liu’s career is one that is much revered by her peers. As a trailblazing scientist, she has made outstanding achievements and effort in pushing the boundaries of science to make innovative discoveries in the fields of chemical and biomolecular engineering as well as sustainability and alternative energy research.

In 2022, she was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (US NAE) as an international member for her outstanding work in bringing organic electronic materials into aqueous media, opening new doors for biomedicine, environmental monitoring, sensors and electronic devices. Prof Liu’s election to the US NAE for her revolutionary research earned her a place on this year’s Asian Scientist 100 list.

Prof Liu is an internationally acclaimed researcher and is a recipient of multiple accolades, including the President’s Technology Award (2016) and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Centenary Prize (2021), and ranks among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and the top 1 per cent Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate, with over 450 publications and 30 patents to her name.

Aside from being a prolific researcher, Prof Liu takes on leadership roles such as founding director of the NUS Centre for Hydrogen Innovations, which aims to discover innovative strategies for commercialising hydrogen as a green energy source. Prof Liu also assumed the role of Deputy President (Research and Technology) from 1 April 2023, taking charge of NUS’ research strategies.

Professor Hong Wan Jin

Prof Hong is a dedicated researcher of over 30 years, supporting the development of Singapore’s biomedical research ecosystem. He is an Honorary Joint Professor at the Department of Biochemistry at NUS Medicine and the Executive Director of A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology.

He has been honoured under this year’s Asian Scientist 100 list for being awarded the President’s Science and Technology Medal in 2022. Prof Hong was conferred this prestigious award for his extraordinary work in establishing Singapore’s biomedical sciences research ecosystem through forging strong partnerships between the public sector, academic and clinical research institutes, and promoting innovation to support Singapore’s economic development.

Prof Hong has a distinguished career in molecular and cell biology research, and has contributed significantly to the global scientific community’s understanding of membrane transport in the secretory and endocytic pathways and the Hippo signalling pathway in human cancer. His research has resulted in more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered over 27,000 citations internationally.

Apart from excelling in research, Prof Hong has also been commended for his active role in grooming young scientists. A stalwart leader, Prof Hong has held leadership positions in various scientific associations, such as the President of the Science Council of Asia, and member of the Board of Trustees for the Human Frontier Science Program.

Assistant Professor Koh Ming Joo

Asst Prof Koh is a rising star, as evident from the impressive accolades he has received for his exceptional research in the field of Chemistry. His research focuses on sustainable catalysis and radical chemistry by developing technologies derived from abundant and non-precious materials such as base metals.

He received the Young Scientist Award 2022 presented by the Singapore National Academy of Science for his research in sustainable base metal catalysis and radical-based chemical technologies that revolutionise chemical synthesis. This recent achievement earned him a spot as an honouree of this year’s iteration of the Asian Scientist 100 list.

Asst Prof Koh is also a recipient of many prestigious awards for research and teaching, including the Innovators Under 35 (TR35) Asia Pacific Award (2021), Excellent Young Teacher Award (2019 – 2020), and Thieme Chemistry Journals Award (2022). Last year, he was also honoured as one of the Talented 12 class of 2022 by Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) for his work on sustainable catalysis.

Nurture is in his nature as he grooms the next generation of researchers to give back to society. He participates in local and international science forums and outreach programmes to share his research work and experiences with young science enthusiasts, inspiring them to pursue their interests in science.