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Dr Shawn Lum and collaborators win Prof Subra Suresh’s Accelerating Creativity and Excellence award for seed dispersal study

11 Jan 2019

Congratulations to Dr Shawn Lum who has been awarded funding for a new interdisciplinary research project through the Accelerating Creativity and Excellence (ACE) Programme. The ACE Programme has been launched by Prof Subra Suresh to encourage greater interdisciplinary collaboration between the various schools and colleges in NTU. By providing seed funding it aims to catalyse bold and unconventional cross-disciplinary research across colleges. One of the just funded projects is a collaboration between ASE’s Dr Shawn Lum and researchers at NIE and EEE entitled “Tracking seeds and their animal dispersers in tropical forests: using engineering advances to address long-standing challenges in biodiversity conservation”.

Seed production and effective dispersal is crucial for plant reproduction, plant species composition, and forest resilience. Animals are the dispersal agents for most tropical tree species but there is little information on the success and extent of dispersal at a scale that is appropriate for understanding forest-wide regeneration. The project seeks to overcome technical limitations to the study of seed dispersal by developing a cost-effective automated wireless sensor network that can track seeds and their animal dispersers in tropical forests on a realistic ecosystem-wide scale. If successful it may be possible to more accurately ascertain the impacts of the disappearance of seed dispersing animals by comparing forests that have depauperate (lacking in genetic variation) vertebrate populations with those that are still relatively intact. The project is a collaboration between Dr Norman Lim (NIE; one of Singapore's foremost wildlife biologists), A/P Lee Yee Hui (EEE; an expert in sensor technologies) and Dr Shawn Lum of ASE.