MORE than 20 of Singapore's science pioneers will be honoured in a new book to be published later this year as part of the Republic's 50th birthday.
The book, which will be titled Singapore's Scientific Pioneers, will include profiles of people such as former chief defence scientist Lui Pao Chuen and Nanyang Technological University deputy president Freddy Boey.
Retired geography professor Wong Poh Poh, who was the only Singaporean on the global team that worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's seminal 2007 report, is also among the scientists interviewed.
The project is the brainchild of Dr Juliana Chan and Dr Rebecca Tan. They are, respectively, editor-in-chief and managing editor of the Asian Scientist Magazine, a print and online science and technology magazine about research and development in Asia.
They received funding from the SG50 Celebration Fund, set up to encourage Singaporeans to come up with novel ways to mark the nation's golden jubilee.
Two thousand softcover copies of the book will be printed for libraries, schools, scientists and students, and 200 hardcover editions for special recipients.
It will also be available free online.
Dr Tan said: "Juliana and I are both fairly young scientists and we stand on the shoulders of giants.
"A lot of people laid the groundwork for the facilities and culture that we have today, and we are interested in who they are, their personal stories, and how they got to where they are now."
Dr Chan said the book will have at least 25 profiles, and they are still crowdsourcing recommendations for interviewees, as well as looking for potential venue sponsors for a launch party in August.
One of the authors is former Straits Times science and environment correspondent Grace Chua. She said she was fascinated by the researchers' accounts of the rudimentary research facilities in the 1960s to early 1980s.
"Researchers like Leo Tan in biology, Wong Poh Poh in geography and Louis Chen in mathematics went into their fields not because it would guarantee wealth and a stable job."
"What has driven them all these years is love of their work," said Ms Chua.
This article was first published on Jan 26, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.