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13 from Singapore on list of world's top scientific minds

Publication Date : 26-06-2014


Thirteen professors from Singapore have been named among the world's best and brightest in a new report.

Eight from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and five from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - specialising in areas including agricultural science and conservation - were named by business information firm Thomson Reuters in its report: The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014.

It is the largest number of researchers from Singapore to feature on the global list of top scientific researchers which this year featured about 3,200.

It is the third time the New York-based firm has compiled such a list. Only two NUS researchers and one from NTU were named on the first one in 2001.

The study used a new methodology that only considered researchers' latest and most cited papers, instead of all their work over a longer period.

In addition, NTU's Prof Zhang Hua, 43, was one of two from Asia who emerged on a list of 17 "hot" researchers - those who have produced work in the last two years that has been most frequently cited by academics.

Thomson's bibliometric analysis consultant David Pendlebury said there has been a "notable improvement" in the impact of Singaporean research.

"(This) matches all other Thomson Reuters indicators of Singapore's advance in terms of output, world share, citation impact, production of highly cited papers and university rankings," he said. The NUS and NTU were placed second and 11th in Asia respectively in the recent Times Higher Education ranking, he noted.

Data was collected by trawling thousands of journals to count how often papers were cited by other academics between 2002 and 2012.

The top three institutions with the most highly cited researchers were Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University, all in the United States.

Both the NUS and NTU said their inclusions on the list reflects growth in their research activity.

NTU has "rapidly expanded its research activities in the field of life sciences, physics and sustainability", said its president Bertil Andersson.

It has also established a lead in areas such as material science and nanotechnology, and its scientists are producing more original work in top journals, he noted.

One example is Prof Zhang who carried out award-winning research in areas such as the use of nanomaterials - which contain extremely small particles - in bio-sensors to detect contaminants in water.

The Singapore permanent resident, who joined NTU in 2006 and published 43 papers last year, said he was "very excited" by his latest recognition.

Meanwhile, NUS has made "strong progress" in the last 15 years and become a "comprehensive, research-intensive university," said Prof Barry Halliwell, its deputy president (research and technology).

Recruiting top overseas and local talent, strong government and industry support and interdisciplinary research have led to its success, he added.

NUS engineering professor Lee Jim Yang, 60 - who produced around 20 papers last year - said it was a "surprise" to be listed. "It definitely feels good that our work and research at NUS are being recognised, especially when the research was done for purposes other than publicity."

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