Photo Credit: Dr Daniel Ong is running a reactor that helps A*STAR to convert carbon dioxide into useful and sustainable chemicals, as well as fuel energy.
As a scientist, Dr Daniel Ong hopes to leave a better world for future generations.
“Imagine earth as an egg. Once you break it, it’s broken. You cannot unbreak it. This is what will happen if excessive carbon dioxide continues to be released and not enough is done to combat the issue,” explains the 40-year-old father of two.
He does his part by starting at home — he teaches his children how to prevent wasting water, electricity and food, as well as to recycle whenever possible.
He says: “It is never too early to start educating the next generation to play their part in sustaining our earth, our home.”
On a grander scale, Dr Ong contributes to sustainability efforts through his work as the head of strategy management at A*STAR’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES). He is working closely with the Urban and Green Tech Office (UGTO), which is responsible for the decarbonisation (carbon emission reduction) and sustainability efforts of A*STAR.
The UGTO leverages technological advancements developed by A*STAR research institutes and the wider research and development (R&D) ecosystem. Dr Ong says being part of this
initiative not only enables him to drive activities and engagements in sustainability efforts, but also allows him to collaborate with multi-disciplinary research institutes at A*STAR.
Teamwork makes the dream work
As an A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS) recipient, Dr Daniel Ong was given opportunities and exposure to varied research roles within A*STAR. The scholarship and the support he received has helped him to pursue his passion for science and research.
Dr Ong majored in physics for his bachelor’s degree and pursued a PhD degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering under the AGS. He also has a master of science in finance.
He admits that the road to learning is not an easy one. Dr Ong says he had to put in extra time to truly understand the subjects over the course of his studies. However, he held onto the belief that “if something is worth getting, it is worth every effort”. The scientist is also thankful for the support of close-knit family and friends in his learning journey.
Before taking on the role of ICES’ head of strategy management, Dr Ong worked on industry-facing projects and collaborated with a team of fellow scientists and engineers to develop technologies for converting carbon dioxide into reusable fuels and everyday items such as recyclable plastic materials and multi-use waxes. These technologies, together with complementary strategies in biodegradability and recyclability, will play an integral part in carbon capture, utilisation and storage efforts in future — while enabling Singapore to play a key role to drive active carbon management.
After four years in front line research, Dr Ong moved to an innovation and strategy management role within ICES in 2018.
Today, he oversees the institute’s key programmes and initiatives, as well as its portfolio of R&D activities. His role is to map and align ICES’ innovation target areas in the space of decarbonisation, sustainability and circular economy, specialty chemicals and the future of chemicals manufacturing.
Working for future generations
Dr Ong says challenges will always appear in any academic and professional pursuit. But what keeps him going is the support and kindness that he receives from his superiors, leaders and colleagues.
Dr Ong aspires to pay it forward in a future role where he can nurture talents and inspire them in a similar way to what he has experienced.
“I’ve always felt that science underpins the progress of society. I hope to play a part in it as much as I can,” he says.
He encourages aspiring scientists to pursue their passion for the greater good, “The future is yours. Seize it with fervour, and strive to create an even brighter future for those who will come after you!”
A*STAR Graduate Scholarship
Singaporeans and other nationals intending to take up Singapore citizenship; must satisfy the criteria for and seek admission to a PhD programme in a Singapore autonomous university; they should have obtained at least a 2nd Upper Class Honours Degree or equivalent in relevant disciplines; and have a strong interest in a research career
VALUE OF THE AWARD:
Full tuition fees; monthly sustenance allowance, inclusive of CPF contribution (where applicable); other allowances including book allowance, computer allowance, conference
allowance, thesis allowance; support for up to 12 months of overseas attachment; AGS awardees are also eligible for the AGS (PDF) for overseas post-doctoral training after completion of their PhD studies
No service commitment for Singaporeans; two-year service commitment period in Singapore-based companies in the areas of biomedical sciences, physical sciences or engineering for non-Singaporeans; AGS awardees who are subsequently awarded the AGS (PDF) for overseas post-doctoral training will have a three-year service commitment period