Aya SakamotoMy summer this year was a rich and colourful learning experience principally thanks to my research placement in Singapore. I joined the Botany Lab of the National University of Singapore for 10 weeks, where I had the chance to be a part of an important research on the ecology of a superb, pristine and endangered forest.

My role as an intern was to learn as much as possible. I was lucky to be surrounded by dedicated scientists who were keen on teaching me their ways, brought me to seminars, and took the time to answer my many questions. Because my knowledge of botany was not nearly as profound as the members of my team, my whole time there was a steep learning curve. I was constantly amazed at the biodiversity I witnessed, and lucky enough sometimes to catch a glimpse of species extremely rare in Singapore like the Banded leaf monkey.

On top of this, my supervisor instructed me to write a paper on the status and distribution of a nationally critically endangered plant for the chance to get published in the journal Nature in Singapore. It was a great experience to have my independent project for which I could go to the field and the herbarium. With the help of the whole research team, I successfully completed the paper before the end of the placement.

Aside from all the botany and ecology knowledge that I have gained in the ten weeks in Singapore, working closely with scientists and many PhD students has allowed me to understand what it takes to work in the field, and helps me forge my own ambitions for my career. The work ethic and passion that I witnessed in the Botany Lab is something that I hope to carry in my working life.

I also took the time to take full advantage of Singapore’s ideal location for travel. As a first timer in South Asia, I had a fantastic time exploring the multi-cultural melting pot that is Singapore, and took two weekend trips to Malaysia. This made me want to stay longer in the area, and I am sure I will return.

Overall I am very happy with the productive summer I spent in Singapore and would highly recommend it to other students. This valuable experience has made me decide that I want to carry on my studies with a Master’s degree, and even perhaps a PhD.

I was constantly amazed at the biodiversity I witnessed, and lucky enough sometimes to catch a glimpse of species extremely rare in Singapore"

Aya Sakamoto