The Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) was founded in 2008 to better understand geohazards and climate change. Hosted at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, its mission would be to conduct fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and climate change in and around Southeast Asia, toward safer and more sustainable societies. Fifteen years later, the EOS mission has not changed, and EOS has evolved into a world-renowned research institute that will continue to drive scientific discoveries in Earth and climate sciences for many years to come.
The EOS mission (Source: Earth Observatory of Singapore)
EOS celebrated this milestone by hosting an event on 13 September 2023, with NTU leadership, EOS scientists and staff, and long-term partners. The Guest-of-Honour was Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment.
Professor Benjamin Horton, the Director of EOS, opened the event with his welcome remarks that highlighted how proud he is to be leading such a successful and impactful institute that is EOS, and at the same time, he announced the launch of the Climate Transformation Programme led by the Earth Observatory of Singapore. “EOS will develop, inspire and accelerate knowledge-based solutions and educate future leaders to establish the stable climate and environment necessary for resilient, just, and sustainable societies,” he said.
Prof Ling San, NTU’s Deputy President and Provost, followed with his opening remarks and highlighted the continued support of NTU for Earth science research and EOS. “NTU has been the home of the EOS since its inception, and we remain committed to supporting EOS’s research efforts on natural hazards and climate change. Today, after 15 years of scientific discoveries, collaboration, and engagement activities, the EOS has achieved renown as a leader in geohazard and climate research in Singapore, Southeast Asia, and around the world. The efforts and successes of EOS’s leadership, faculty and researchers have put NTU firmly on the global map in the earth sciences and related disciplines,” he said.
Professor Benjamin Horton during his welcome remarks (left) and Professor Ling San during his opening remarks (right) (Source: Earth Observatory of Singapore)
The event continued with a dialogue between Minister Fu, Prof Luke Ong, NTU’s Vice President for Research, Assoc Professor Susanna Jenkins, a Principal Investigator at EOS, and Ms Trina Ng, a PhD student studying Singapore sea-level changes at EOS. The dialogue focused on sustainability, natural hazards, climate change, and capacity building. It highlighted how EOS can support Singapore’s sustainability agenda, by for example advancing knowledge about climate-related hazards, by helping Singapore and the region prepare for the hazards, and by inspiring the next generation of scientists.
Minister Fu expressed her support for EOS and hopes for closer collaborations with EOS in the future. “Congratulations to EOS for your many years of success. I look forward to closer collaborations as we build a climate-resilient Singapore together,” she said.
Photo of the panelists for the dialogue during the 15th anniversary of EOS. From left to right: Professor Benjamin Horton, Professor Luke Ong, Minister Fu, Ms Trina Ng, and Associate Professor Susanna Jenkins (Source: Earth Observatory of Singapore)
Prof Adam Switzer, the longest-serving EOS Principal Investigator (PI), later took the stage to reflect on his time at EOS and his hopes for the future. He recalled that at the beginning, EOS had a lot of resources but faced the challenge of starting from the ground up. Over the next 15 years, EOS had to attract talent, such as faculty, researchers, and graduate students, and it had to build a profile across the region. It was also tasked with helping to create the Asian School of the Environment which is now a thriving school where many EOS PIs find their academic home.
Professor Adam Switzer during his reflections on 15 years of EOS (Source: Earth Observatory of Singapore)
Turning to the challenge of building laboratories and developing the critical collaborations with neighbouring countries to conduct its research and help the region become safer and more sustainable, Prof Switzer reflected “We could not have done this without the support of NTU, its management and the government agencies of Singapore. Here we are, 15 years on, and though EOS may look different to when I arrived, I am very pleased to see we continue to remain focused on the initial mission of addressing geohazards and climate change for safer and more sustainable communities across Southeast Asia.”
Milestones for EOS since its creation in 2008 (Source: Earth Observatory of Singapore)
The event concluded with the screening of a short video telling the story of EOS over the years through interviews with many EOS scientists, including the EOS founding director Professor Kerry Sieh and the initial group leaders Prof Paul Tapponnier and Prof Chris Newhall. Many of these scientists stressed the need to better understand past earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and climate change, to better prepare for future events, and the critical need to work together and with collaborators to achieve these objectives. Each of these EOS scientists have different techniques and different research questions, but they are all driven by the same goal of promoting a safer and more sustainable future for Singapore and the region. As Prof Chris Newhall said in the video, he was told when EOS started that research institutes come and go and that who knows what would be here next year, but “here we are, at 15 years, and going strong!”
EOS thanks all its staff and scientists, collaborators, partners, and NTU for these 15 years of success, and is looking forward to furthering its mission with you all in the many years to come.