23 September 2020 – Four NUS Computing professors and seven alumni were named in the inaugural Singapore 100 Women in Technology List. The list is a collaboration between the Singapore Computer Society, Infocomm Media Development Authority, SG Women in Tech and Mediacorp.
Provost’s Chair Professor Wynne Hsu, Professor Janice Lee Mong Li, Professor Tulika Mitra and Adjunct Professor Kwong Yuk Wah were named in the list, which was unveiled in early September this year.
The list celebrates women who are tech leaders, community advocates, trailblazers and technologists who have made significant contribution to the tech and STEM fields. Broadly, the STEM sector involves integrating the four disciplines, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to solve challenging real-world problems.
They share their thoughts on making it to the list, and their encouragements to girls and women who aspire to be in the STEM field.
Provost’s Chair Professor Wynne Hsu, Department of Computer Science, and Director of the Institute of Data Science
Professor Wynne Hsu’s early work on integrating classification and association rule mining has now become a classic algorithm taught in today's data mining textbooks. Her research has also won the ACM SIGKDD (Special Interest Group Knowledge Discovery in Databases) Test-of-time Award, which recognizes outstanding KDD conference research papers beyond the last decade that have made an important impact on the data mining research community.
She is also the Lead Principal Investigator of one of the three winning AI Singapore projects in the AI in Health Grand Challenge 2019. Her team is looking to develop an AI system called JARVISDHL to gather local healthcare data and subsequently, create AI algorithms and models to facilitate personalised care and better decision making by physicians for patients with diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
Prof Hsu is also the co-founder of a local health technology startup, EyRIS, which uses deep learning systems to detect eye diseases.
“I am honored,” said Prof Hsu of her inclusion to the list. “Most of all, I am thankful to the many people who have worked with me and supported me to make this possible.”
She also expressed her hope that those who aspire to be in technology or STEM fields will “chase after their own dreams”, stay true to themselves and persevere.
Professor Janice Lee Mong Li, Department of Computer Science, and Director of the NUS Centre for Trusted Internet and Community
Alongside Prof Hsu, Prof Lee was responsible for tapping on her data science expertise to develop revolutionary technologies for retina image analysis, thus enabling the accurate detection of at-risk individuals for cardio-vascular diseases, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma-suspect and age-related macular degeneration. Most notably, her software has been licensed worldwide, with another currently approved for use in Singapore and Europe.
Prof Lee is also the co-Principal Investigator of the winning team that is developing the JARVISDHL, an AI system to facilitate evidence-based personalised treatment. The team won the AI in Health Grand Challenge Award organised by AI Singapore last year.
“I feel that there are so many others who are deserving so I am pleasantly surprised and honoured to make the list,” said Prof Lee, who was also a co-recipient of the 2014 President’s Technology Award for her outstanding contributions to the development of novel ocular image analysis.
“I have always believed that STEM is available for men and women, boys and girls, and if it is truly of interest to them, nothing should hold them back from pursuing it. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by women in my journey, and my hope is other women will also have women in their network that make a difference to them as they journey in their career. I look forward to a new generation of female engineers and tech leaders,” she said.
Provost’s Chair Professor Tulika Mitra, Department of Computer Science
Professor Tulika Mitra established the multi-disciplinary Computer Engineering programme offered by NUS Computing and the NUS School of Engineering, transforming the curriculum into a programme that produced well-trained, industry-ready graduates. She has also supervised and mentored many Masters and PhD students, who have gone on to make important contributions in both academia and the IT sector.
Apart from being an educator, Prof Mitra is also a world-renowned researcher specialising in embedded systems, which play a crucial role in the Internet of Things (IoT) – a network that links everyday, physical objects embedded with data sensors and are designed to connect, transmit and exchange information. Prof Mitra’s recent projects include low-powered automated designs for IoT devices and 5G base stations.
She is also the editor-in-chief of leading journal ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems.
“I am honored to make this list and especially happy to represent the NUS School of Computing along with Wynne and Mong Li,” said Prof Mitra of her mention in the list.
She also hopes that people will change their perceptions of Computer Science as a field of study where one is isolated from others.
“I hope for greater representation of women and girls in technology… We need to convince them that Computer Science is an interesting, fun, and rewarding profession where it is possible to make societal impact, and that you will not be coding away sitting in a room isolated from the rest of the world. Today, Computer Scientists are involved in solving challenging real-world problems, and working alongside colleagues from various other disciplines. Women can bring a whole new perspective to the table.”
Prof Mitra would also like to encourage girls who aspire to be in STEM and technology to explore the different opportunities available. She believes that girls who are keen to pursue their interests in STEM can do it if they set their minds to it.
“Singapore and the world need your participation in technology. There are myriads of opportunities and pathways in tech and I am sure you will find one that excites you and is aligned with your aspirations,” she said.
Adjunct Professor Kwong Yuk Wah, Department of Information Systems and Analytics
From the Civil Service Computerisation Programme, a programme to improve public administration through the effective use of ICT, to other e-government initiatives, Dr Kwong Yuk Wah, adjunct professor at NUS Computing, has led many major IT initiatives within the public sector.
Dr Kwong, who is also the National Trades Union Congress’s (NTUC) former chief information officer, was also responsible for NTUC’s digitalization efforts. During her leadership, NTUC won Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology in the private sector category, Singapore’s highest accolade for infocomm innovation.
To overcome the shortage of IT professionals in Singapore, Dr Kwong devotes her time to mentoring and imparting her knowledge to the next generation of IT professionals. She has been an adjunct professor at NUS since 2008.
“I feel very honoured to be selected to the inaugural Singapore 100 Women in Tech list and hope to share my knowledge and experience with more young girls and women in the tech industry.” She said.
Dr Kwong believes that having women in the sector and thus, a diverse set of voices at the table, will enable better solutions to be created.
“STEM impacts all walks of life,” She explained. “Often, solutions or decisions must consider the unique needs and desire of women. I hope more young girls and women can join this sector. With women’s voices, or a more diverse workforce, the solutions can be better designed and are more likely to meet the different needs in our society.”
Dr Kwong urged those who are interested in STEM to pursue their passion.
“If you like these subjects, you should take it up and go for a STEM profession because it is not only very fulfilling, it opens up a diverse and wide range of opportunities,” she said.
Seven NUS Computing alumni included in list
Apart from the four NUS Computing professors, seven NUS Computing alumni were also included in the list.
Annie An Dongmei, Bachelor of Computing in Information Systems, Class of 2015
Chua Hui Xiang, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Class of 2016
Soh Siew Choo, Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science, Class of 1993
Tan Yen Yen, Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, Class of 1987
Tang Jiahui, Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics (Honours), Class of 2017
Tay Hwee Shan, Bachelor of Computing (Honours) and Communications & Media, with Minor in Management, Class of 2012
Yang Yinping, Bachelor of Computing in Information Systems (Honours), Class of 2003, PhD in Information Systems, Class of 2007