Benson Ng
Manager, Research Operations
Years in Duke-NUS: 3 years+

The Insider chatted with Benson to find out about his different roles at Duke-NUS and why soccer is his game.

1) What’s your role at the Research Operations department?

My work entails a lot of meticulous details. I basically act as a conduit to ensure that the scientists’ experiments are performed smoothly in the ABSL3 Lab. This entails ensuring compliance with established safety protocols and legislative requirements while ensuring Duke-NUS’ culture of safety and adherence to established industrial practices. It is a fine balancing act between ensuring scientists are not discouraged by the extensive compliance requirements and satisfying local authorities’ requirements.

2) A typical work day?

It always starts with breakfast to ensure I am energised for the day.

My day entails a routine inspection at the ABSL3 Lab to ensure everything is operating normally. My colleague or I will accompany the scientists into the lab to do the thorough checks. Occasionally, I meet with SingHealth’s personnel. This is usually to discuss upcoming experiments that require their team’s expertise. 

When I’m back at the Duke-NUS campus, I’m normally involved in meetings/discussions with various colleagues on administrative matters concerning the lab’s operations.  Research Operations is a vibrant and spirited department and we hold frequent informal dialogues to update each other on important work matters. This also fosters trust, good bonding and friendships.

Research Operations Department Lunch 2015

3) You were recently awarded the Achievers Award…

It was a pleasant surprise and I have to admit I was initially clueless to what this award is about. Having looked up what the award is for, I am immensely honoured and grateful for the recognition. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I must add that the award is only possible because of the support of numerous people who have guided and inspired me to perform well in my work. I aim to continue the high standards that are crucial for my role. I’m truly privileged and humbled to be part of this excellent team. 

Benson receiving his Achiever's Award from Dean Thomas Coffman at the recent Staff Dinner & Dance event

4) Who are your role models in life? 

I have been blessed to have several inspiring people at various stages of my life but the standout role-model for me is undoubtedly my grandmother. She is not from a well-to-do family but firmly believes in having all her children educated despite herself receiving none.  I have seen her remain upbeat and collected in less optimistic and troubling times. I can only marvel at how she has all this energy to overcome her major life challenges. By dutifully fulfilling her promises to her children, she was the perfect embodiment of the values that she stands for – honesty, reliability and trustworthiness.  

5) Let’s talk about your first love - soccer!

I have played soccer since I was young and it keeps me relatively fit.  When I was younger, soccer was a competitive sport and I played a few times weekly.  Now, with the passing of age, soccer is more of a strategic and social game that has taught me a lot about life as well. It is a team sport that reminds me how the combined commitment each team member is essential to achieve victory. I believe one should live life this way - work and play hard, celebrate the wins and bounce back from the losses. 

Ouch! A serious soccer injury put Benson put of action for a good 9 months

6) If you had a chance to play with a famous player, who would it be?

Dennis Bergkamp. His is a Dutch International whom I felt was the best playmaker during his time second only to Zidane. Bergkamp is not a flashy player and during his playing-days was very much an unsung hero for his team and country. His vision and unassuming style of play was often instrumental to his team’s victory.  It would be great to play alongside him and learn how one could be so celebrated and yet remain so humble.   

7) Things that put a small smile on my face

Aside from soccer, I enjoy collecting postcards.  Every now and then, I’ll receive a postcard from my family and friends who know about my hobby.  I am especially delighted when the postcard is from an exotic location.

A quick ‘post’ stop to mail a postcard – Family holiday in Greece (2015)

8) Your personal motto

There is a quote by Robert Frost that sums up what he had learned about life – “Life goes on”.  

Again, I learned that through my grandmother’s experience, one just have to move forward no matter what life throws at you.

 A GREAT holiday – exploring the Great Wall of China (2014)

Cycling is the best way to visit Coney Island, Singapore