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He is the gatekeeper of safety

Photo Caption: At the peak of the Covid-19 situation in early 2020, Mr Goh Jia Feng had a hand in sourcing and securing shipments of critical laboratory consumables needed for the analyses of the virus as well as personal protective equipment.

Mr Goh Jia Feng, 33, has been fascinated with science since he was a young boy. He was in his primary school’s science club, read the encyclopedia like a story book and eventually chose to pursue a biological sciences major at Nanyang Technological University.

This “ordinary” trajectory somehow led to him getting selected for an undergraduate internship with the Home Team, where he worked in the chemicals, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) team’s border laboratory within Tuas Checkpoint.

One thing led to another, and today, he is a Senior CBRNE Scientist with HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency) after officially joining the Ministry of Home Affairs, in August 2013.

While his day-to-day work revolves around CBRNE-related research, screening and analyses, his foundation in biological sciences has him heavily involved in the fight against Covid-19.

When the Covid-19 situation took a drastic turn in early 2020 with a rapid surge in the number of infected individuals, Jia Feng had a hand in sourcing and securing shipments of critical laboratory consumables needed for the analyses of the virus as well as personal protective equipment.

He says: “Then, I led a team of three scientists in performing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analyses on nasopharyngeal samples. I did this in 12-hour shifts for about four months, and we are still supporting Singapore in the fight against the pandemic today.”


Playing a role in key missions

When not battling Covid-19, Jia Feng is also busy researching and evaluating both scientific equipment and analytical protocols. He also screens incoming cargo for the presence of CBRNE threats and analyses samples of suspected CBRNE materials.

He also plays a part in raising Home Team Officers’ CBRNE screening, detection and mitigation capabilities — for a safer and more secure Singapore — by conducting training sessions for them.

His involvement extends to major events such as Singapore’s National Day Parades and the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogues, for which he has been carrying out bio-surveillance operations since 2014.

Jia Feng notes: “To ensure that these key events can take place smoothly and safely, we need to provide early detection of biological threats (if any). We spend long hours planning and preparing for them, followed by tedious logistical arrangements. Braving fatigue and long working hours, our team remains calm and focused so that we are able to act swiftly to ensure ‘mission success’.”

While juggling Covid-19 and bio-surveillance responsibilities, he is also working on a project that aims to incorporate automation in the detection of biological threats as well as the review of facility infrastructure that would boost the CBRNE team’s research capabilities.

“Joining HTX is a no-brainer. It is a young and dynamic organisation that offers boundless opportunities for everyone to play their part in contributing to securing Singapore,” he says. “Take a look at the current security climate and one can tell that this job is vital to Singapore’s economic and security stability.”