The Tempinis diaries

December 8, 2007

Managing Superstar Academics: Of Whales and Guppies

Filed under: education — Tags: , , , , — toru @ 4:17 pm

Philip Yeo, the former Chairman of the Economic Development Board of Singapore (“EDB”) has an interesting article in Nature.  In this article, he likens superstar hires to ‘whales’ who will guide, inspire and mentor young local talent whom he calls ‘guppies’.   It seems that Singapore has nurtured 1,000 guppies, all of whom would have completed their PhDs at top graduate schools including their lab attachment year by 2009 in areas such as information technology, engineering, molecular biology, biochemistry and medicine.  Edison Liu talks about how top overseas scientists in Singapore inspire local scientists like Lisa Ng and Ng Huck Hui to continue to stay and produce good work in Singapore. 

While there is  dispute on the direction of Singapore’s biomedical push, I think that the Singapore government is on to something here.  It is not just about buying in top talent.  But rather more importantly it is to ensure that these top talent will help lift the standards of the local talent.  This is certainly a lesson that we should learn after the entire Jeffrey Sachs debacle.  Hopefully, UKM will have a plan in place for Dr. Tan Hock Lim to work closely with the local faculty members and to improve their standards.


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