- unknown (b.)
An Associate Professor and Acting Head of the Department of Biochemistry in the medical school at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for more than 20 years, but when he first arrived at the University in the early ’90s, he tapped the Internet as a way of facilitating his biochemistry research, and he quickly developed a shadow career working to bring the net to the rest of Singapore — and so many other parts of Asia. He studied in the West, and he hoped to raise Asian computing technology to the levels he had witnessed abroad. Like so many other Internet pioneers — including, MIT political scientist John Klensin — he wasn’t trained as a computer engineer. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Natural Science Tripos, majoring in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. He received his M.Sc. from the University of College, London, and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He then returned to Singapore, where his family had emigrated from mainland China at the turn of the Twentieth Century. He took a full-time position in the medical school at the National University, and though the University couldn’t provide the sort of computing infrastructure he’d grown accustomed to back in Britain, it did offer a connection to the Internet through BITNET, an academic network that began in the States. Soon, he was using more Internet bandwidth than almost anyone in Singapore, taking advantage of things like email, online newsgroups, and FTP — the file transfer protocol that could be used to move larger amounts of data across the globe — while tapping into various bioinformatics databases set up in other parts of the world. Over the next 20 years, even as he was building an academic career in biochemistry, he oversaw Singapore’s first Internet service provider. He helped launch the first websites aimed at Chinese and Tamil speakers. He also spearheaded the creation of an Internet domain naming system that would allow online addresses to accommodate more than just the Latin characters used in English speaking countries. In 1991, he was a logical choice to help build the university’s TechNet unit, a $3.5 million project that would provide dedicated Internet connection for research and development. Over the next few years, he helped bring several new Internet technologies to Singapore, including WAIS (an early means of searching the net), Gopher (a way of better organizing online data), and the web. Also, while doing a short sabbatical at the RIKEN research institute outside of Tokyo, he seeded many of these same technologies in Japan as well. In September, 2000 he was appointed to the Board of Directors for Keppel T&T, Singapore and last re-election: April 19, 2011. An independent and non-executive Director, he is Chairman of the Nominating Committee and a member of the Divestment and New Investment, Remuneration and Board Safety Committees. He is Chairman of the A*STAR Computational Resource Centre (ACRC), Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of SGX-listed Eu Yan Sang International Ltd, Master of Eusoff Hall of Residence at NUS, Board Director of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), Founding Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet) and secretary of the ExCo, International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB). He was the founding principal investigator of the Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SINGAREN). As founder of the multilingual Internet domain name system (IDN), he has been a key mover in the internationalisation of the Internet domain naming system. He had previously served as Chairman of ASEAN Sub-Committee on Biotechnology (SCB) and the Asia Pacific Network Group (APNG), President of the Association for Medical and Bioinformatics Singapore (AMBIS). He headed Technet Unit before its commercial debut as Pacific Internet. In addition, he is also a Director of iGates Bioinnovation Pte, Ltd. He has also been involved in a number of NUS start-up companies and spin-offs. In recognition of this work, the Internet Society (ISOC) included him in its inaugural class of inductees into the Internet Hall of Fame, placing him alongside such names as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, and Leonard Kleinrock.
Noted For:Founder of the multilingual Internet domain name system (IDN); allowing online addresses to accommodate more than just the Latin characters used in English speaking countries
Category of Achievement: