Faculty Team

Chan Heng Chee

PhD, Political Science, University of Singapore

Chan Heng Chee chairs the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She is also Ambassador-at-Large with the Singapore Foreign Ministry, Chairman of the National Arts Council, a Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a Member of the Constitutional Commission 2016, a Member of the Presidential Elections Commission and Deputy Chairman of the Social Science Research Council. Professor Chan is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore and a Member of the Yale-NUS Governing Board.

Previously, she was Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States and Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations with concurrent accreditation as High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico.

Jeffrey Chan

PhD, Architecture (Design Theory and Methods), University of California, Berkeley

Jeffrey Chan is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences cluster. His research focuses on design ethics in the context of large-scale sociotechnical systems and urbanization, and he is the author of Urban Ethics in the Anthropocene: The moral dimensions of six emerging conditions in contemporary urbanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Dr. Chan received his PhD in Architecture (Design Theory and Methods) from University of California, Berkeley and is an alumnus of Harvard University (M.Ed in Mind, Brain and Education) and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (B.Arch).

Lynette Cheah

PhD, Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lynette Cheah is an Assistant Professor with the Engineering Systems and Design Pillar. Modern-day transportation is heavily dependent on petroleum, which presents challenging energy and environmental problems. Dr. Cheah is passionate about achieving sustainable mobility, and her research has focused on developing models and tools to assess the life-cycle energy and environmental impacts of road transport.

Prior to joining SUTD, Dr. Cheah was a research scientist with the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. She was also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Materials Systems Laboratory at MIT, and a research assistant at the Sloan Automotive Laboratory at MIT. She is a Singapore National Science Scholar and a Fellow with the Martin Family Society for Sustainability.

Lyle Fearnley

Joint Ph.D., Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco

Lyle Fearnley is Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Trained as an anthropologist of science and medicine, Fearnley received a Joint Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco. His fieldwork-based research explores the assemblages of science and rural life in contemporary China, where agricultural modernization projects are giving rise to new environmental and health risks. Dr. Fearnley’s book project — The Influenza Epicenter: Rural China and Animal Disease in an Age of Emerging Pandemics — analyzes the encounters of global health and China’s livestock farms during the avian influenza crisis. Currently, he is developing a new project on the contested futures of rice breeding and genetics in China. The project analyzes the intersections of Chinese rice genome research, food safety movements, and the human-environment configurations of wet-rice paddy agriculture.

Anna Lane

PhD, Psychology, Flinders University

Anna Lane is a lifespan developmental psychologist with a general research interest that focuses on better understanding the psychological, social and environmental predictors of healthy ageing. Currently, she is a Research Fellow with the Lee Li Ming Programme in Ageing Urbanism at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, where she conducts research on dementia-friendly communities, neighbourhood social capital and other aspects of age-friendly neighbourhoods. She has also worked at the National Institute of Labour Studies and the Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University in South Australia exploring the resilience processes of Australia’s ageing farmers, and examining a ‘health in all policy’ initiative to achieve sustainable and healthy communities for all generations.

Samson Lim

PhD, History, Cornell University

Samson Lim is an Assistant Professor of History. His research examines the connections between technology, capitalism, and culture. His first book, Siam’s New Detectives: Visualizing Crime and Conspiracy in Modern Thailand (University of Hawaii Press, 2016), is a history of the visual culture of policing in Thailand between during the early 20th century. Dr. Lim is currently working on a cultural history of capitalism and the money economy as seen through the lens of financial crimes in early twentieth century Bangkok. He is also a member of the Opportunity Lab at SUTD, a centre at SUTD that encourages social change through design projects throughout Asia.

Jin Murakami

PhD, City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley

Jin Murakami is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Policy. He specializes in the areas of transportation and land use, spatial planning and development in globalization, and infrastructure finance and land policy. His research focuses principally on spatial, financial, and technological matters that influence city-regions’ global competitiveness and local livability. Dr. Murakami’s current projects include an international case study of transit-oriented development and land value capture, spatial influences of intercity transportation systems, and an empirical analysis on real estate investment trusts as socially responsible investing in Asia.

Sreeja Nair

PhD, Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of SIngapore

Sreeja Nair has an inter-disciplinary background with a PhD in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), Masters in Climate and Society (Columbia University) and Environmental Studies (TERI University, India). Dr. Nair’s research interest lies in studying the design of policy strategies in anticipation of critical socio-technical and environmental transitions in the future, including digital disruption and the workforce, and water sustainability initiatives in urban Asia. Dr. Nair has worked with The Energy and Resources Institute in India and contributed to the National and state level Action Plans on Climate Change in India and assessment of impacts of environmental change and policy responses in other parts of Asia such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. She is currently working on a book titled ‘Policy experimentation in the age of digital disruption’ (under contract with Cambridge University Press).

Harvey Neo

PhD, Geography, Clark University

Harvey Neo’s research focuses on critical urban studies, citizen urban science and policy-making as well as nature-society interactions. Previously an Associate Professor of Geography at the National University of Singapore, Dr. Neo is also one of the editors of Geoforum, an Associate Editor of Regional Studies, Regional Science and a Member of the International Editorial Advisory Board, Geographies of Justice and Social Transportation Book Series.

Dr. Neo leads the Cities Cluster Research on “The Future of Asian Cities”. Amongst other things, he is interested in how a citizen-centric urban science can be practised and sustained in tandem with “big data”, and in so doing, how it can influence urban policies positively. The future of such citizen urban science will be studied across several Southeast Asian cities, including Phnom Penh, Jakarta and Manila.

Olivia Nicol

PhD, Sociology, Columbia University

Olivia Nicol is an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her research focuses on the interplay between morals and markets in economic sociology. Recent work examines political conflicts emerging in the aftermath of major economic disasters and how responsibility for complex and collective economic failures becomes diluted in an entanglement of actors, actions and mechanisms. Her current book project, The Blame Game, focuses on attribution of responsibility for the recent financial crisis in the United States (2007 – 2010). Dr. Nicol has a PhD in sociology from Columbia University, and was a Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute in Florence.

Poon King Wang

MSc, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Stanford University

Poon King Wang is the Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the BCA Centre for Sustainable Buildings Ltd (a collaboration between Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority and United Nations Environment Programme). He focuses on smart cities, digital economies and societies, and the future of work, education and healthcare.

Mr. Poon has served in the public sector in the Economic Development Board; Ministry of Law; Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR); and the Competition Commission of Singapore. His areas of responsibilities included cluster development, intellectual property, technology futures, STEM outreach, technology commercialization, ASEAN collaborations, and international trade agreements. In the private sector, he was head of business analytics at one of Singapore’s largest regional banks, and was a strategy advisor to a mobile local search start up.

Ate Poorthuis

PhD, Geography, University of Kentucky

Ate Poorthuis is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences cluster. His research explores the possibilities and limitations of big data through quantitative analysis and visualization. Recent work focuses on the use of big data and social media platforms as a method to critically understand how urban spaces ‘work’. How do people use and perceive their neighbourhoods and the city-at-large? How do people move across large urban systems? And how do people respond to key events such as natural disasters?

Dr. Poorthuis has a keen interest in the practical application of these academic insights within urban planning and policy and acts as a consultant to various government agencies. He is also the co-founder of The DOLLY Project, a repository of billions of geolocated social media, that strives to address the difficulties of using big data within the social sciences.

John Powers

PhD, Urban Planning, Columbia University

John Powers’ research areas are in the fields of city and regional planning and economics, particularly in comparative metropolitan regional economic growth and development. He focuses on planning and economic theory to study how human and organizational capabilities coalesce around economic and technological goals, and how this in turn helps create new structural meanings for urban systems.

Current research work and interests relate to the role of innovation in cities, the factors that propel it forward, and its connection to achieving more inclusive welfare-enhancing forms of development. Dr. Powers also has over a dozen years of management consulting and international experience focused on international development, economic policy, growth strategy, privatization and public-private partnership development, infrastructure planning and investment, and public sector reform. This work has entailed extensive in-country roles across Africa, East and Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Gordon Tan

PhD, Geography, University of Buffalo

Gordon Tan is a Faculty Fellow and financial geographer. His research focuses on examining the role of technological changes in shaping the nature of urban financial centres and financial work, and how people understand and interact with new, emerging financial technologies like bitcoin. He is also interested in studying the networked flows of human capital among financial centres and their effect on urban and regional development. As part of his ongoing research agenda that interrogates the intersections between finance, technology and society, Dr. Tan is currently working on a co-authored book that explores misinformation in the online era from a geographical perspective.

Gabe Tusinski

PhD, Anthropology, University of Chicago

Trained in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology, Dr. Tusinski’s research draws on semiotic approaches to material and visual culture to examine contemporary political transformations in urban Southeast Asia. His dissertation “The Spectral City: Cultural Belonging, Urban Space, and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Dili, Timor-Leste” explored how post-conflict urban architectural reconstruction projects and nation-building discourses in the capital city of Timor-Leste revitalize indigenous Timorese cultural sensibilities about house-based kinship and simultaneously frame these kinship practices as incompatible with democratic ideals. Some of his current scholarly interests include: urban space, domestic and vernacular architecture, material culture studies, kinship, violence, sovereignty and nation-building, multilingualism, language and semiotic ideologies, and space, place, and landscape.

Andrew Yee

PhD, Communication, Nanyang Technological University

Andrew Yee is a Faculty Fellow, with a focus on understanding how social and technological environments shape the health and well-being of youths. Currently, he is examining the processes and conditions in which socialization forces such as parents, the media, and peers, influence food consumption preferences in children, a precursor to obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. He is also particularly interested in how media use by children affects their well-being and learning. In this area, he is developing a framework for understanding media effects on children.

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