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​ASE undergrad Alexis Goh Regional Winner for Asia in The Global Undergraduate Awards 2020 with wildlife camera trap study

Published on: 29-Sep-2020

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Alexis Goh and some of the animals she captured on camera in Singapore's forests.

Congratulations to ASE undergraduate Ms. Alexis Goh, who has been recognized by the Global Undergraduate Awards 2020 as a Highly Commended entrant and Regional winner for Asia in the Earth & Environmental Sciences category! Her entry is a CN Yang Scholars' Programme research module titled 'A Multi-Year Multi-Site Assessment of Factors Influencing Terrestrial Mammals in Singapore Forests', supervised by Dr Matthew Luskin (now at University of Queensland, Australia) and Prof David Wardle (ASE).

The Global Undergraduate Awards has been cited as the ultimate champion of high potential undergraduates and is often referred to as the junior Nobel Prize. It is the world's largest academic awards programme with over 100 affiliated institutions of higher education. Under the patronage of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, it identifies leading creative thinkers and problem-solvers through their undergraduate coursework.

All submissions to the Global Undergraduate Awards are judged anonymously by an international academic panel of 400+ expert judges from some of the world's leading academic institutions. Many of the entries are FYP projects or similar, which makes Alexis's achievement all the more impressive as she conducted the study in the second half of her first year in the EESS programme at ASE.

For her awarded project, Alexis studied wildlife in Singapore forests using camera traps. She focused on four species: Long-tailed macaque, Wild boars, Sambar deer, and Greater and lesser mousedeer (2 different species but studied together as they are not easy to tell apart). From study locations in mainland Singapore and on offshore islands Pulau Ubin and Sentosa, she recorded the presence of wildlife species to see if forest size, distance from forest edge, forest location (offshore island versus mainland), and human activity correlated with wildlife diversity and abundances. Though human activities gave lower wildlife abundance, the other factors did not impact wildlife significantly.

The experience of doing the project included long days of fieldwork setting the camera traps up, but the reward came when Alexis viewed the footage and found that it had captured uncommon animals like sambar deer, porcupines, Sunda pangolin, and even leopard cats. She also got plenty of macaque 'selfies', as many individuals were curious enough to grab the cameras, even at times tampering with it. The project was a great introduction to Singapore's forest biodiversity, says Alexis, as she had to learn how to identify all the animals that the camera captured, also the ones not included in the study.

Currently Alexis is a year 3 student, with two more years of undergraduate study to go, and she is pursuing a year-long URECA (Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus) project on Singapore's nature ways and their usage by invertebrate pollinators. This project is under ASE's Tropical Ecology & Entomology Lab, guided by Asst Prof Eleanor Slade. Her fieldwork is still ongoing but she's looking forward to seeing what her observations reveal (and so are we!).

Alexis is interested in pursuing further studies as research has proven to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Other than research, I would be keen to also work in fields related to zoology, biodiversity conservation, and nature outreach/advocacy, says Alexis. 

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