Sivasothi (Otterman) - Projects (2002)

 

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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Is there a year plan for all this?

Education
RMBR volunteers [2001 onwards] - In light of the opportunities provided by the museum for a mutually benficial association with the interested layman, a volunteer system is in the process of being setup. Already, an ethusiastic group of snake-hunters has enhanced the research project of a visiting snake research team. Friends of the Raffles Museum will officially recruit undergraduates in 2002. Now partially supported by the Ford Motor Company Environment & Conservation Grant. In 2002, Toddycats! was initiated.

RMBR Library - Consolidation, cataloguing and verification of literature resources of the RMBR. Securing space, consolidating books, bibliography preparation and catloguing. This achieved with the help of Singapore Polytechnic attachment students and NUS undergraduate help. Currently, a Temasek Polytechnic Information Studies student on attachment will work on the final integration of the system.

Workshops for Chek Jawa volunteer guides - NParks, NUS, NSS - with the reprieve of Chek Jawa, the next phase is to recruit and train volnteers to help in guiding while the management committee draws up long-term plans.

MuseumFest [May 2002 onwards] - with members of the Museum Roundtable.

Singapore Library Festival [2001-] - with the National LIbrary Board's World Library Summit, April 2002.

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore - Mangrove Section - this handled by the Habitat Group since its inception by Kate Thome halfway through the run of the beach cleanups in Singapore. In its fifth year, the Raffles Museum takes over officvially as the organiser. We add Kranji mangroves to our list of sites this year! Now supported by the Ford Motor Company Environment & Conservation Grant

Exhibition Gallery [1999-present] - Launched by the Minister of Education, R/Adm Teo Chee Hean on 15th June 2001. Assisting on the team that monitored the renovation works, design and prepration of the exhibits.

Asia-Pacific Youth Science Festival [July 2000] - A collaboration with the Singapore Science Centre in which teams of students armed with digital cameras and notebook computers spread out over Singapore and learnt about the various habitats. They returned and offered us powerpoint presentations about what they learnt and left behind webpages, relfecting a their quick glimpse into these habitats.

Environmental Education Workshop for the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) [Nov 2000] - Information for guides.

School projects - These are web-based or ecology-based. The first project I oversaw was carried out by some student's from Crescent's Girls Secondary School. And to my surprise, they actually finished the project! Take a look at the other RMBR webpage, now on Singapore One; it even features Alvin and myself tell our Changi Beach Dugggong carcass story, albeit with very bad audio (post-production blues).

Student attachments [2000-present] - In 2000, I conducted the first attachment for a group of JC1 Victoria Junior College students, and two JC2 students from St. Andrew's Junior College. They tried their hand at specimen preservation from the vacated freezers, helped in making some collections for the gallery, went on field trips to mangroves, sandy shore and forest, and re-organised the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology back issues in the RBZ room. This exercise will influence the design of the programmes that will follow.

Chinese High students on iSparks attachment (2001) completed a gallery brochure and webpage, and a second lot learnt to be museum guides during the Singapore Library Festival (2002). Now partially supported by the Ford Motor Company Environment & Conservation Grant

 

Media
Secret Worlds - a documentary about the biodiversity of Singapore in 6 half-hour episodes by Moving Visuals. I am asisting Charith Pelpola on this project, throwing up ideas, linking him with people and discussing content. Now showning on Channel I in April and May 2002.

Mangrove CDROM - This is a project by Knowledge Village, supported by the Ministry of Education. They are developing a CDROM for kids about the mangrove and have a great team of developers and graphic artists led by Leon Chua, who took over from John Larkin. The crew have learnt a lot about mangroves this past year as we crawled all over for photographs and observations!

Media and education - Getting press articles is an important educational tool. Providing informaion to the media is a way to ensure issues get into public knowledge.

 

Research
Field collections - These are done in relation to visiting researchers who can provide their expertise on specific groups, and unfortunately often in respose to areas that are about to be reclaimed, or developed. In July 2001, we tackled Loyang Mangroves and in July and August 2001, it was Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin.

Zoological Specimen Database [1999-present] - The RMBR is host to thousands of specimens collected over two centuries. The specimen holdings are recorded on catalogue books even until now. However, some part of the catalogues were recorded into proprietal software like MUSE. This software is clumsy and rpaidly went out of date. In 1999, an exercise was initiated to covert all the old data formats and written records to MS Excel, and to verify the Excel data and the physically verify the specimens reflected in the holdings . The project is not continous but progresses in pockets of free time; additionally, much of the grunt work is accomplished with the help of student assistants who have to undergo training. The final phase would be conversion to a web-efficient databasing software such as SQL. Now partially supported by the Ford Motor Company Environment & Conservation Grant. An effort to secure funding for the complete project has begun with an NUS Business School's MBA tutorial group's Operations Management Project.

Artificial bat roosts - Investigating the possibility of setting up artificial bat roosts witing the ridge.

RMBR Entomology Group - An attempt to start up an amateur insect study group, to improve the museum's collection and improve the knowledge of insect diversity in Singapore and collection sites and methods. Once I find a core group, we can start trying out satellite participants.

Managing Mangrove Researchers - A whole variety of researchers are hosted by the museum on short and long-term visits. I usually tend to mangrove researchers and try to combine their field trips with my own research or education trips.

EX ANAMBAS - an initiative by the Workshop on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea, which until the recent 2001 meeting, was funded by the Canadian government through a funding agency. RMBR was involved since its inception at the writing of the 1999 proposal and have been working clolsely with the Indonesian government over this. Later we presented the case for the exercise to the 11th workshop in Bandung, 2001 and began coordinating the preparations for and the actual exercise with LIPI. We successfully launched the exercise in March 2002, and when presenting the final report at the 12th Workshop in west Jakarta, realised it was a success for the Workshop process as well.

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Department of Biological Sciences

Biodiversity & Ecology Journal Club [2000 - present] - The department research focus has several major groups, and within each, the postgraduates organise journal clubs. Ths series began in 2000, and were organised by Farida Binti Yusuf for the first year. I manage the webpage, and circulate the announcements via the Ecotax Mailing List.

DBSWITS [1999 - present] - The department's Work Improvement Team. This team was recruited by Kok Oi Yee, and convened its first meeting in July 1999. No prpject was too small, to get us started, and soon we had a few completed projects under our belt. All the projects and minutes are available here.

International Conference on Fundamental Sciences [May 2001] - This is a wonderful opportunity to listen in to leading scientists abd Nobel Laureates. Many staff in the department are involved in the organising, and Tommy Tan, Ow Ping Yu and myself are Floor Managers. We monitor and coordinate the various elements at the University Cultural Centre, to ensure the speakers get to speak!

Journal Ranking & Benchmarking Exercise [1997; Apr-May 2001] - In the effort to determine the relative performance of academic staff in the university, administrators have been unable to resist the attraction of an existing index (JCR) in which journals that researchers publish in are assigned an Impact Factor.Thus it is believed tha the perfomance of academic staff can be determined. An obviously imperfect system (only SCI journals are considered), but hopefully this is just a stop-gap measure until better methods evolve.

Being a teacher in the field [from 1999, annual] - one of lessons in teh Graduate Teaching Assistant Programme conducted by Prof Ip. Graduate students in the department have to undergo this course and another by CDTL, and apprentice on one course before becoming paid teaching assistants, or simply, demos.

Biolympics [annual] - these annual games are traditionally organised and run by the residing honours class. The whole department is broken into four house colours and compete for points in a variety of events that include the more active games like soccer and captain's ball and less phyically strenuous, but just as exciting charades, darts, jigsaw, snakes & ladders and karaoke! Ong Bee lian & myself sort the house lists to spare the students at really messy job and conduct a briefing for them at the beginning of the year to get them started.

Deepavali Tea [annual] - this was started by the Indian nationals zoology postgraduat students in the 80's, I believe. A gesture of thanks to the department for the opportunities received, it is a well attended event, featuring an array of different food and colours. In the early days in Zoology, it was held at the now extinct level 5 tea room. It is now organised by the Indian students and academics and to cope woth the larger group of the merged zoology and botany departmentsts, it now takes place in Bio Lab 5 (the former Zoo Lab 1). In latter years, I handle the money, drinks and assist the organiser (most recently Sasi Nayar) in planning. Got to put up photos from various years here.

 

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The Habitat Group [since the early 90's] - This is a group of graduates mainly from NUS Botany and Zoology and now Biological Sciences. Many had done projects in taxonomy or ecology from my era in NUS and our juniors, with a couple of our seniors. Now largely in non-biology jobs, they conduct and help out at natural history related education projects. We also combine with and work within other groups, such as People's Association, Zoo Docents, Sungei Buloh Nature Park Volunteers, Singapore Science Centre and the Nature Society (Singapore). The post-field trip makan sessions are a chance for us to catch up with each other and exchange news about Singapore. Principal guides include Alvin Wong, Choong Mei Fun and Jaswant Singh, and an annual feature since 1997 has been the International Coastal Cleanup SIngapore in mangroves. It is a restricted group but since 1998 an e-newsletter and in 2000, a webpage was established:

Habitatnews [1998-present] - the job and my circle of friends keep me fairly well in the know for natural history information. Having great difficulty keeping others informed, I finally set up an e-newsletter via then then onelist in late 1998. I had been assured by my positive experience at the Macintosh User's Group Singapore (MUGS). Onelist has since merged with Egroups and now has been swallowed by Yahoogroups! What I especially love is the searchable archives - relevant messages even turn up in keyword searches conducted by main stream search engines such as Google. Last year, the mailing list acquired the domain name http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg and server space, thanks to the good folk at Science Faculty's Centre for Information Technology and Applications (CITA).

IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group - newsletter, webpage

Nature Society (Singapore) - trips, workshop

Ecotax Mailing List [1998-present] - this list was setup in 1998 (the year most of my lists were born) in order to facilitate communication between the ecology and taxonomy researchers in Singapore from various departments in NUS, NTU, NParks and the SIngapore Science Centre. The list is restricted in that subscribers are identified before joining.

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