Knowledge of experimental physics has been crucial to the successful collaboration between the the NUS Department of Physics and many technology intensive fields. Satellite remote sensing by NUS Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP), which was set up by physicists from the Department, has been used to monitor changes in the environment from natural disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to damage from oil spills and forest fires. While Prof Chen Ping’s work on hydrogen storage offers a practical solution in alternative fuel use to combat global warming and earned her the World Scientific Physics Research Medal.
To encourage more students to continue their pursuit of physics, the Department has recently introduced the Arthur Rajaratnam Prize which recognises students who have excelled at their experimental training during their coursework in physics. A cash incentive of S$200 will be awarded to two top performing students in Level 2000 and Level 3000 experimental laboratory modules every year.
The Prize is named in honour of retired Prof Arthur Rajaratnam (’51) who headed the Department from 1969 to 1982 and helped initiate the Centre for Ion Beam Applications, whose applications are relevant to areas including biophysics, nuclear microscopy of degenerative diseases and semiconductor micromachining. Prof Rajaratnam made a gift of S$15,000 to help set up the Prize.
Prof Bernard Tan Giong Gie, Director of Maritime Studies at NUS, says: “We hope to recognise specifically the performance of students in experimental work during their time at the University. We hope that this might spur renewed interest in the subject and help students appreciate the importance of physics to industries such as manufacturing, engineering, defense and energy among many others.”
He adds: “Practical training in physics is important to fuelling career prospects in new areas such as initiatives for developing a clean energy sector in Singapore which will use nuclear or solar energy. This helps encourage students to see the career viability of choosing physics as a major.”
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