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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


Made with Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.

05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Mon 11 Jun 2007

Vietnamese Military Medical University delegation

Category : visitors

04 Jun 2007 - A delegation from the Vietnamese Military Medical University on a visit to the National University of Singapore were guided through the Raffles Museum's Public Gallery by Life Sciences honours student and Toddycat, Hwang Wei Song.


Photo by N. Sivasothi

Posted at 7:48AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 04 Jun 2007

Sep 2007 - Second International Barcode Conference in Taipei, Taiwan

Category : meetings

Conference announcement - The Consortium for the Barcode of Life and Academia Sinica invite you to the Second International Barcode Conference in Taipei, Taiwan, during the week of 17 September 2007. Abstracts are due 1 July 2007. Travel support will be available for a limited number of participants from developing countries (applications are due 1 July 2007).

The conference website is at www.dnabarcodes2007.org and the Second Conference Announcement (pdf) can be downloaded here.

Posted at 7:40AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 29 May 2007

Channel U's "On the Beat 2" to feature Raffles Museum

Category : media

29 May 2007 - The film crew from Channel U's "On the Beat 2" visited the Raffles Museum today. The television show is telecast over Channel U at 8.30pm every Tuesday, and is hosted by Vivian Lai, Tang Ling Wi and Jeremy Tian. The show features interesting places, people, food and products in and around Singapore.

Research writer Linda Yap from the Chinese Entertainment Productions of Mediacorp Studios Pte Ltd approached us about including the Raffles Museum in one episode. Last Friday, Spruce Leong turned up for a whirlwind recce to the Pubic Gallery. He was quick and prepared and responded enthusiastically about the suggestion to visit the Wet Collection to inject a little life into the episode.

Finding living, non-specimen faces for the camera is not always easy, but this time, with curator K. L. Yeo providing flower crabs for a demo, I figured I was justified in snatching grad student Joelle Lai away from her thesis for an hour. She works on the genus after all and her spoken Mandarin can pass muster.

Spruce and the film crew turned up earlier this afternoon and got things settled before 5pm. From request to completion in just a week; this was an efficient team - and you be the judge of the result. Catch "On the Beat 2" on Channel U at 8.30pm on Wednesday, 12th June 2007 (schedule may change but I am told trailers don't lie).


Joelle explaining the intricasies of preservation before filming began.
L-R: Spruce Leong, Vivian Lai, Tang Ling Wi, Jeremy Tian and Joelle Lai

After they had left, intern Ong Ruo Yu, who had acompanied the team and taken most of these photos, followed the newly-learnt instructions from Joelle's demo to inject the remaining crabs. She preserved the lot into a container provided by Kelvin Lim; the flower crabs will be used for guide training and Public Gallery demos - since IMD, we have started using wet specimens during gallery visits.


Ruo Yu and the freshly preserved flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus).

Posted at 10:10AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 28 May 2007

Neil Cumberlidge in town

Category : visitors

28 May 2007 - Freshwater/phytotelmic tree-climbing crab specialist Neil Cumberlidge (Department of Biology, Northern Michigan University, USA) is visiting the Raffles Museum this week.

Here he is during a tour of the museum with Peter Ng and Tohru Naruse just now. He's having a crabby talk with Peter right now. Their voices are permeating the office and they must be having a grand time catching up.

Peter passed me some of his paper when I was working on mangrove tree-climbing crabs - google and you'll understand why.

Check out his Freshwater Crab Homepage. It has many sections, including photos of type specimens and illustrated keys for some of the African regions.

Posted at 4:06AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Fri 25 May 2007

Speaking at TICE Eco Camp, NTU

Category : talks

25 May 2007 - NTU Earthlink is hosting this year's TICE (Tertiary Institutions Council for the Environment) Eco Camp from 24 - 27 May 2007. This camp that hopes to groom young environmental leaders, involves some 80 student participants from nine institutions - the three Universities (NUS, NTU and SMU), five polytechnics (Singapore Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic) and the National Institute of Education.

Peter Ng, Leo Tan and myself went down to speak yesterday at the TICE Eco Camp on climate change, environmentalism, nature in Singapore, and the role of individuals and groups. I was dragged down earlier by Peter when we learnt that we were going to the same place event!

Peter, as guest of honour, breathed fire and brimstone, sharing the "save yourselves!" response to the threat of climate change. Prof Leo Tan and myself were speaking after dinner. Before we got started, we witnessed the camp participants take a very serious pledge led by Grace Ngan.

A student asked Prof Tan about his 'missing' powerpoint and he explained he had just returned from an overseas trip and had not prepared one. Seated next to him listening (while furiously preparing my presentation on my mac), I reached over and told the student with great confidence, "he doesn't need slides, you just watch." And true enough, the students and I listened to a thoughtful lecture, the sort that a curricular will not often provide.

Our session lasted somewhere between 8.00pm to 10.30pm although it was scheduled for 90 mins! Well I can blame the studfents partially - they kept up a good pace of questions and that was really encouraging. I think speakers respond to an audience so it was a really good crowd last night!

Posted at 10:00AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Fri 25 May 2007

Lukas Ruber, molecular fish systematist from BMNH

Category : visitors

Heok Hui has guests this few day, from British Museum of Natural History The Natural History Museum, Dr Lukas Ruber and Soraya Villalba (his girlfriend), who will be here from 22 to 28 May 2007.

Lukas is fish molecular systematist who loves photography! View his webpage

Posted at 4:34AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 24 May 2007

International Museum Day (IMD2007) Bus Tours - heartlanders visit!

Category : museums

Wed 23 May 2007 - We look forward to heartlander visits to the museum during the regional bus tour programme organised by Museum Roundtable for the International Museum Day celebrations.

A hardworking team at the National Heritage Board see to an operation that has heartlanders hop onto a bus in Jurong to visit three members of the Museum Roundtable - NUS Museum, Chinese Heritage Centre (NTU) and Raffles Museum [more tours at other museum here.]

Gallery Guides rock!
Interns Danliang and Ruo Yu had been given the thumb's up by Gwynne and thus had been conferred the honour of anchoring the gallery tours. Put through a crash course right up to minutes before participants arrived, they were not tossed into the deep entirely but had the support of experienced RMBR Toddycat guides Oi Yee, Wei Song, Gwynne and Nanthinee.

Nanthinee and the sad story of the death of the last Banded Leaf Monkey in Bukit Timah

They worked in pairs and alone, talked together or separately, facing the crowd or from two directions and their good nature shone through all of that. The heartlander crowd expressed laughter, glee, amazement, sadness and wonder throughout the four sessions.

In the characteristic refrain of IMD head honcho Amy Marlina, "you guys rock!"

Tree-climbing crabs illuminated!
In the spirit of the Linnaean tercentenary, we decided to show off some taxonomic samples. We brought out the very nice cart that I had acquired during the first Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium in 2003. Used for SARS supplies, I had shanghai-ed the cart for its grand unveiling today. Stocked with specimens of tree-climbing crabs and horseshoe crabs, the interns brought them out dripping with alcohol from the bottles for closer inspection to the great fascination of participants!

In order to illustrate the cheliped colour of the different species of the tree-climbing mangrove crab, Episesarma, the interns held up a lamp behind the glass bottles and put on a light show!

This has inspired us to attempt more next year, and we'll lug out a selection of hardy, bigger and more colourful specimens!

Danliang sheds light on the tree-climbing crabs

Eyes of a tiger
The older folk are often a mine of interesting stories themselves. From one of those old-timers last year, Wei Song learnt that when they went durian-picking in old plantations, they'd have to make loud noises to scare off the competition - tigers!!

It's no tall tale - local naturalist Sutari Supari actually had a close shave many years ago in Taman Negara when his orang asli guide hospitably took him on a private trip to eat wild durians. Thinking he was hearing Malaysian air force jets flying overhead, he finally realised the sound's feline origins when he stared in to a pair of yellow orbs - yup, the eyes of a tiger!

Tales of food, sex and gore work again
The exhausted interns reported at the end of four shifts that the stories about food, gore and sex were the most appealing.

The need for explanations in Mandarin required some help from the crowd and where their vocabulary failed, a circuitous explanation worked! Here they are explaining the protruding and split hemipenis of the 4.4 metre King Cobra exhibit. The poor snake was clubbed to death by four golfers at a golf course on 1st June 2002.

Yes, this was a fine way for Raffles Museum to mark the Linnaean tercentenary!

Meanwhile at Uppsala University, "Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko joined celebrations in Sweden on Wednesday marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, who is known as the father of modern taxonomy." Thanks for the link, Alvin!

Linnaeus tercentenary: Celebrating Linnaeus' 300th birthday - Flickr album - del.icio.us bookmarks.

Tech Tags:

Posted at 1:13AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 24 May 2007

Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II - webpages, reports and photo albums

Category : meetings

Books at the symposium


Peter Ng & Tommy Koh looking on with satisfaction at
"The Natural Heritage of Singapore, 2nd edition."


Lena Chan, Pår Ahlberger, Anna Maj Hultgård and Peter Ng looking at
"Carl Linnaeus" by Gunnar Broberg.


Tommy Koh, Ng Lang & Lena Chan with
"The Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore."

The symposium announcement was made in Habitatnews and Raffles Museum News on 15 May 2007 but I was actually scooped by Ria Tan on WildSingapore who posted the announcement the previous night!

Reports and albums

  • "Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II (2007)," by N. Sivasothi. Raffles Museum News, 22 May 2007.
  • Flickr album from BoSS II. Photos by Hwang Wei Song, Airani S. & Cynthia Lee, 22 May 2007.
  • "Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II - opening remarks," by Marcus Ng (more to come!) The Annotated Budak, 23 May 2007.
  • "Tommy Koh's green mission: Save 2 species." By T. Rajan. The Straits Times, 23 Apr 2007. Top diplomat getting Zoo's help to save monkey and squirrel unique to Singapore.

In a lighter vein

  • "That 15 mins presentation today," by N. Sivasothi. Otterman speaks..., 22 May 2007.
  • "Phew, symposium webpage up!" By N. Sivasothi. Otterman speaks..., 15 May 2007.
  • "Talk at Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium," by Adrian Loo. Lekowala, 22 May 2007.

Symposium webpage

Linnaeus tercentenary: Celebrating Linnaeus' 300th birthday - Flickr album - del.icio.us bookmarks.

Tech Tags:

Posted at 1:11AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 22 May 2007

Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II (2007)

Category : meetings

22 May 2007 - The Biodiversity Symposium of Singapore II (2007) was co-hosted with the National Biodiversity Reference Centre of the National Parks Board. We commemorated the World Biodiversity Day (22 May 2007) and Linnaeus' Tercentenary (23 May 2007), and also announced "The Natural Heritage of Singapore, 2nd Edition," and "An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore."

The morning featured speeches and lectures by Ng Lang (CEO, NParks), Tommy Koh (UNEP Champion of the Earth, 2006), Pår Ahlberger (Swedish Ambassador to Singapore) and Geoffrey Davison, Peter Ng, Benito Tan, Adrian Loo and myself. [Link to photos]

Secrets, saving endemics and Linnaeus introduced by a special Swede

NParks CEO Ng Lang hinted (and Lena Chan gleamed) at a secret they intend to reveal next week about biodiversity in Singapore, so lookout for it in the papers! Good news is hard to come by from an island battered for decades so we await this eagerly!

Tommy Koh claimed his 'main job was to sell the Natural Heritage book,' but he got enthusiassitic as he touched on many individuals and groups in the room. At one point, he asked of the audience, surely we can save the Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel and the Banded-leaf Monkey?

Swedish Ambassador Pår Ahlberger called upon to demonstrate the true prronounciation of Carolus Linnaeus name, graciously also explained the influence Sweden's large area, 75% natural vegetation cover and relatively sparse population had on the father of taxonomy, Linnaeus, 300 years ago. He speech was a passionate one and it brought that special touch to the room.

Fire and brimstone

Geoff Davison's clinical lecture breathed a certainty about climate change and suggested ideas and Peter Ng celebrated Linnaeus and somehow went on to stamp out any hope of ignoring climate change, even unleashing on us, the unsuspecting audience, the fifth horse of the apocalypse! We were in a battle for existence, he said, so forget "save the earth," the battle cry is "save ourselves!"

Anti-climatically, as Anand noted, we broke for tea...

Green Tea

Lena Chan, arrowed to MC the show for her distinctive style, rounded us back from the sumptuous tea. I had received Peter's blessings about the Raffles Museum budget for this tea and spent a little more to prevent generating plastic waste. And everyone said the cutlery made the food taste better! By catering for only 80% of registered participants, we had ensured no food would be wasted either!

Showers struck, and it was pretty neat to see the NParks & RMBR crew scramble to get all the food under shelter in seconds. That teamwork bodes for good things.

Light at the end of the tunnel

After we reconvened, Benito, Adrian and myself treated the post-tea audience with some light-hearted reflections from our field trips. Some of Ben's stories were seriously death-defying and we'll never look at moss taxonomists the same way again! Adrian shook his head over the field trips he had with zoologists and was emotional about assisting students in discovering biodiversity.

I wrapped things up with an energetic account of how I went out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to hunt for otters in the field, but found myself back in libraries and museums to unravel a plot of answers before I was able to offer any help in conservation!

Thanks for the help!

Thanks to An Nee (webpage) and Airani (ecofriendly catering) who came to the rescue once again when called upon at the last minute! And of course RMBR Intern, Ms Ong Ruo Yu, for handling symposium registration and Wendy Yap (NParks) for pushing me for that symposium announcement!

Thanks also to Wei Ling and Rachel (National Biodiversity Reference Centre, NParks) and Gwynne, Wei Song, Danliang, Ruo Yu, Oi Yee and Airani (Raffles Museum Toddycats) for handling registration, book sales and that extra bit of help cleaning up after the tea while the rest of us were enjoying the symposium indoors!

Links

Posted at 1:54PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 22 May 2007

Interns prepare for IMD 2007 Heartlander Tours

Category : museums

Raffles Museum interns Ruo Yu and Danliang have been undergoing a crash course since Friday by Gwynne Lim, Hwang Wei Song and myself to prepare for the International Museum Day's regional bus tours.

They have to learn the underlying biology, stories and folklore and guiding techniques enough to handle a Heartlander tour. Public Gallery instructors Gwynne and Wei Song are introducing them to some interesting bugs too!

I've made it a little more interesting by setting up a crab station to show participants the difference between a male and female crab, and the different parts of a tree-climbing crab's anatomy! They were a little icky about it at first but will easily get used to handling crabs like the rest of us!

We call these IMD visits "Heartlander tours" because the parge proportion of visitors on the bus are heartlanders who only find their way to the university museum this way (see the 2006 blog post . It's due to a great concept and some hard work by the NHB IMD team yet again!

See IMD2007 schedule of visits at the Raffles Museum.

Posted at 6:40AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

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