Monday, June 13, 2011

Mission of Efficiency

Fun Fact: Did you know that Singapore is less than 25% the area of Rhode Island per sq. mi., yet there are 5 Singaporean people for every 1 Rhode Islander? In essence, Singapore's population is over 20x more concentrated per sq. mi. than Rhode Island.

Imagine Rutgers being 20x more populated with college students (not that it's possible, this is just a comparison)--that would tally to about 800,000 students just in New Brunswick alone! Now imagine trying to catch the college busses while being bombarded by a mass of people trying to catch that same bus. I'd rather walk from Cook to Busch, thank you.

Singapore's population is so high that most people depend on public transportation to get anywhere on time, but is it a nightmare to catch a bus or a train? Actually, no. Singapore is pushing for incentives to make public transportation more efficient while reducing traffic and air pollution. The trains and busses run every 2 to 8 minutes so they are never overcrowded (though it can get packed at times), and even if you do miss the bus or train, there is always another mode of transport that will easily take you to your destination. Considering that I depend on this mode of transport to go to and from work, this reliability is definately a plus!! And I can explore the zoos and parks on the other side of town, so it's great. I honestly think this is the neatest thing. I love travelling, but actually finding a way to get to where I want to go ends up being the biggest hurdle. If this system were in America, I can probably go from Maine to Cailfornia with ease, though it may take a couple of weeks but I'm up for it! Singapore has the advantage of being a small country you can pretty much catch a bus in almost every nook and cranny of this island.

Developing ways to house all of the people here is a feat in itself. Here, most people live in apartments because they are the least expensive routes for housing. Small bungalows and townhouses can easily cost millions of dollars due to space constraints so that is out of the question! Instead, what you can find are apartment buildings everywhere. The buildings are very colorful, but it is definately a shock to see so many high rises considering that I come from American suburbia. I'm currently living in the blue one!

This mode of efficiency has even crossed into my laboratory. There are well over 20 people in my lab room each working on his or her own project (the most people I have ever seen) all focused on producing glycerol through bioprocessing algae and bacteria. We all share the same equipment, yet there is a harmonious balance between the high volume of people and the work that gets done. As of now, I am currently working on two separate projects to increase the efficiency (ironic) of glycerol production in algae. As of now, I am focused on manipulating the salt concentration of the algae media to determine if an increase in osmotic pressure will correlate to an increase in excreted glycerol from the algae cells. It turns out that glycerol has many pharmaceutical uses and can also be processed for use as biofuel--i.e. lower our dependence on fossil fuels so this is good news. There is at least one other student who is responsible for the experiments I run and I am responsible for another student's experiment. On top of that, there is a gradaute student supervisor and a PhD supervisor that makes sure we are all on track. It all seemed so chaotic when I first started but now that I have been working there for over two weeks, I have adjusted to the Singapore speed.

I will give you updates on my June 17 birthday and weekend adventures soon!

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of public transportation that is actually efficient, it would make a world of difference if we all used it in the US.

    Glycerol is the reason we can store samples at -80 degrees in our freezers! Your research sounds awesome. Have fun :)