Stephanie Ho,  
Secretary, Programme in Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders (NBD)

The Insider: NBD colleague Stephanie shares about work, her love for photography, baking and what matters most in life.

Stephanie and one of her many photography masterpieces!

The Duke-NUS family

This is my 10th year of service and I have forged deep friendships with both my former and current colleagues and bosses. I consider Duke-NUS my second home.

Work wise, what I enjoy most is planning itineraries for our overseas visitors. My initial chats with them often lead to long conversations over food, culture and places of interest. Once, I brought a visitor to the Bengawan Solo cake outlet and he was so fascinated by the colourful pieces of kueh (local snacks) that he took a we-fie on the spot! These small things can translate to sweet memories for the visitors and if they are happy, it makes me happy too.

What three traits best define you?

Shopaholic - I’m embarrassed to say I have been spoilt by my parents since I was young. I enjoy shopping so much that I often end up with unnecessary items! It is definitely time to declutter my home so I have been trying to pack and donate most of my items. Unfortunately, ‘new stocks’ always come in at the speed of light. 

Laid-back - My life has been relatively free of worries and this probably explains my carefree and laid-back nature. Contentment and happiness is important in life. 

Antisocial - I prefer to be in my own cave doing my own thing. Solitude can be a beautiful thing – you get to mindfully experience more of your own life. 

The beauty of photography

When I was 11 years old my dad bought me my first camera. I snapped photos of family, friends, and anything that caught my eye. I later pursued in-depth photography and this opened up my world and my eyes. With macro photography, it’s amazing to see the beauty of tiny insects up close and personal – which is something we hardly ever get to see. In life, don’t we sometimes miss out the small things because we are absorbed in our routine? 

As for portrait photography, I take delight in profiling human subjects. Back in October 2016, I was invited to photograph some of the Duke-NUS' Values Ambassador Award recipients. I was honoured to have this opportunity. Through the lens, I could study and appreciate the beauty of the individuals’ facial features.

Over the years, I have participated in various photography competitions and exhibitions, and found a way to give back to society by donating my prizes to various charity organizations. At the exhibitions where my photos were sold, the proceeds were donated to people with chronic eye diseases. The world is beautiful and we should always try to help the less privileged.                                                                                 

Macro Photography

The heart of baking 

It started when I tasted a black forest cake – it was love at first taste! Naturally this was also the first cake I made and it didn’t stop there. From the mixing, cooking, folding, piping, decorating and more, there’s no sweeter joy than seeing your creations appreciated by people. 

It was passion that drove me to train professionally and learn the art and science of baking. I started from scratch, learned every technique and pushed myself to be better each day. 

A baker has multiple roles:

(a) Thinker – we must know exactly what we want and how to do it (b) Planner - we must plan all our ingredients and work within a stipulated timeframe (c) Scientist – We have to mix, taste and create new discoveries. Most importantly, we must have passion. Passion often drives us to do the craziest and, also, the most beautiful things. 

Moving forward, I am working on creating new recipes that are hopefully suitable for people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. No one should be left out because it’s always nice to enjoy tasty food with your loved ones.

Chef @ work! 

What is the one thing you cannot resist?

Two thingsfood and café-hopping. I enjoy hanging out in cafes, soaking in the atmosphere, drinking my cuppa and watching the world go by. I’m drawn to the variety of pastries on display and usually order the most unique items. Of course, I can’t resist snapping and posting shots of the café’s interior, food and the little details that catch my eye. 

This sounds crazy but I have covered all the cafes in certain estates like Tiong Bahru and Everton. Sometimes, I think I’m overeating from all these café stops but that’s where my tennis sessions come in handy.


When life gives you lemons...

Well, I can use them to make lemon cakes, lemon tarts, lemon bread loaves and more. Yummy!

Life doesn’t come in the sweetest form so do not give up easily. We must taste the bitterness and sourness before we can enjoy the sweetness of our hard work. To me, life is just like eating lemon tarts, the first bite into the sourness makes you cringe but what follows is sweetness of the tart itself. 

Life is beautiful, be content!