INSEAD and Wharton Professors' Research Finds that Testosterone Increases Men’s Preference for Status Goods ’
 
Jul 05, 2018
Category:

Results are the first to demonstrate a causal link between testosterone and rank-related consumer preference for status-enhancing goods

Fontainebleau (France), Singapore, Abu Dhabi, 4 July, 2018: A recent study conducted by a research team around Hilke Plassmann, the INSEAD Chaired Professor of Decision Neuroscience & Brain and Spine Institute (ICM – Inserm/CNRS/Sorbonne Université), a principal investigator in the Social Affective Neuroscience Team at the ICM, David Dubois, Associate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD and Gideon Nave, Assistant Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School & the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative shows that testosterone, the male sex hormone, increased men’s preference for status goods compared to goods of similar perceived quality but seen as lower in status.

The paper and its findings are published in Nature Communications. The research reveals that consumption of status goods (e.g., luxury products or experiences) is partly driven by biological motives. The results are the first to demonstrate that testosterone causally influences rank-related consumer preferences and that the effect is driven by consumers’ aspiration to gain status rather than power or a general inclination for high quality goods.

Other researchers include Amos Nadler of Ivey Business School, David Zava of ZRT laboratories, and Colin Camerer of California Institute of Technology. The team investigated whether and when consumers’ desire for status goods is biologically rooted with a focus on the effect of testosterone on men’s desire for goods conveying status benefits such as luxury products. Basic research shows there is a fundamental need to signal one’s rank across species. Higher social rank brings individuals several significant advantages such as mating opportunities or access to resources or social influence. In human society, individuals often show their rank in the social hierarchy through economic consumption, in particular through possessing and displaying expensive, luxury brands. To what extent is consumers’ preference for such goods biologically motivated?
“In the non-human species literature, some evidence highlights the link between testosterone, and rank-related behaviour. In humans, testosterone levels can situationally increase in contexts related to social rank, during competitions and after winning them or in the presence of an attractive mate,” says Hilke Plassmann.

To gain more insights on the role of testosterone on social rank and status associated behaviour, a study was conducted involving 243 men of similar age and socio-economic background. Randomly, half of them received a single dose of testosterone that mimicked a testosterone spike that could occur in an everyday situation causing an increased testosterone level; the other half received a placebo treatment. All subjects then participated in two tasks.

In the first one, they were asked to choose between pairs of brands. The pairs were composed of brands that were all pretested to have polarised social rank associations but did not differ in perceived quality. That is, one brand was seen to lift its owner much higher in the social hierarchy (e.g., Calvin Klein) than the other (e.g., Levi’s). For each pair, participants were asked “which brand do you prefer and to what extent?”, on 10-point scale anchored with each brand. The findings reveal that men who received the testosterone doses showed a higher preference for the status (positional) goods associated with higher social rank (such as a luxury brand). This suggests a causal link between testosterone and rank-related consumer preferences.

The second task meant to investigate the effect of testosterone on the two distinct routes to high social rank – status and power. While status refers to the respect in the eyes of others, power comes from one’s control of a valued resources. The research team used six different product categories from coffee machines to luxury cars and created three different framings for each product category, with a similar wording but emphasising the target product in terms of its status benefits, power benefits or high quality.

For example, the mock ads variously described a Mont Blanc pen as “the internationally recognised symbol among the influential” (status), “mightier than the sword” (power) “an instrument of persistence and durability” (quality), says David Dubois.

The researchers then asked participants how much they liked the product description and the product itself. Here testosterone did not increase liking when the product was perceived as a quality product or a power enhancing one but only when it was described as conveying status. These results establish a causal link between testosterone and increase of preference for status-enhancing goods.

The findings may be useful for generating new hypotheses regarding contexts where positional (status) consumption occurs. As men experience situational elevation in testosterone during and following competitions such as sporting events or in the presence of attractive mates, male consumers may be more likely to engage in status consumption and find status-related communications more appealing at certain times.
According to Gideon Nave, “While the study shows that consumption of positional goods is partly driven by biological motives, it is important not to forget that cultural differences might play a role in the biological underpinnings of status behaviour and that status signals are not universal. These results bring the first theoretical insights on the biological basis of preference for high status goods that need to be replicated and generalised in other populations.”

The findings also have broad implications for luxury brands and policy makers alike.

“I’ve always been struck by the variations in consumers’ appetite for luxury, with some markets or periods encouraging a “luxury fever” (e.g., urban areas, fast-developing markets such as China etc.) and others less so. Our findings are exciting because they show that consumers' drive for luxury may stem directly from differences in testosterone levels varying with the amount of social competition, population density, or male/female imbalance,” says Amos Nadler.

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About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world's leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to change lives and to transform organisations. A global perspective and cultural diversity are reflected in all aspects of its research and teaching.ssssss

With campuses in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore) and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), INSEAD's business education and research spans three continents. The school’s 145 renowned Faculty members from 40 countries inspire more than 1,400 degree participants annually in its MBA, Executive MBA, Executive Master in Finance, Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Change and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 10,000 executives participate in INSEAD's executive education programmes each year.

In addition to INSEAD's programmes on its three campuses, INSEAD participates in academic partnerships with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia & San Francisco); the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University near Chicago; the Johns Hopkins University/SAIS in Washington DC and the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York; and MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Asia, INSEAD partners with School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai. INSEAD is a founding member in the multidisciplinary Sorbonne University created in 2012, and also partners with Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil.

INSEAD became a pioneer of international business education with the graduation of the first MBA class on the Fontainebleau campus in Europe in 1960. In 2000, INSEAD opened its Asia campus in Singapore. And in 2007 the school began an association in the Middle East, officially opening the Abu Dhabi campus in 2010.

Around the world and over the decades, INSEAD continues to conduct cutting edge research and to innovate across all its programmes to provide business leaders with the knowledge and sensitivity to operate anywhere. These core values have enabled us to become truly "The Business School for the World”.

More information about INSEAD can be found at www.insead.edu.

INSEAD contacts for press:

Europe and Asia
Sophie Badré
Tel: +33 1 60 72 45 26
Email: sophie.badre@insead.edu

Europe
Julia Irrgang
Tel +33 1 60 72 93 34
Email: julia.irrgang@insead.edu

Asia
Aileen Huang
Tel: +65 6799 5552
Email: aileen.huang@insead.edu

Asia
Cheryl Ng
Tel: +65 6407 7234
Email: cheryl.ng@insead.edu

Middle East
Zeina Sleiman
Tel: + 971 50 640 31 91
Email: zeina.sleiman@insead.edu

Linda Furtado
Tel +971 2 651 53 09
Email: linda.furtado@insead.edu

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
HAVE, U Can - one of the largest cross-institutional student teaching and learning programme in Hong Kong
 
Jul 01, 2018
Category:

The HAVE, U Can Programme, funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) to enhance university students’ holistic competencies, was successfully completed on June 8, 2018 (Friday).

The programme was led by Dr Cecilia Chan, Head of Professional Development at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), collaborated with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan University and the Education University of Hong Kong. Two hundred students from the six universities participated in the five-day-four-night programme.

“This is the biggest and the longest cross-institutional programme across universities in Hong Kong. The idea is for the students to work together to develop different competencies that we often find it difficult to integrate into our day-to-day curriculum. Because they get a chance to live together, they will get to know each other very well and that would be the kind of friendship that can last forever. We need to ensure that our students are not just academically brilliant but are all rounded and have positive attitude and values, have heart,” said Dr Chan.

A series of activities were conducted to enhance students’ holistic competencies and virtues. Students gained residential hall experience, took part in a talent show, and were challenged to formulate entrepreneurial solutions for current adolescent problems. On the second last day of the programme, students were invited to join the High Table Dinner, a traditional event in HKU.

The High Table Dinner was hosted in the College Hall at the HKU Jockey Club Student Village III. Professor James Tang, Secretary-General of UGC and representatives from all six collaborating universities were invited to celebrate the success of the Programme, while more than a hundred employers and institution leaders from Hong Kong and Asia joined the dinner to provide career advice and industry insights to programme participants.

The dinner began with opening speeches from representatives from each university and Programme Leader Dr Cecilia Chan. All university representatives acknowledged the significance of holistic competencies development in higher education, and recognised the aspirations and impact of the Programme. In her speech, Dr Chan thanked collaborating universities for their time and effort, and UGC for their generous support. She elaborated on the aim of the Programme and said: “Our motto of the HAVE, U Can Programme is to ‘transform with hearts’. We don’t just want you (participants) to perform well or excellently in academia. We want you to have all the different types of competencies. We want you to consider and appreciate the society.”

Dr Chan then presented a video of recollection of activities from the first three days of the HAVE, U Can Programme. To show appreciation, students presented hand-made knots of hearts to the guests of the High Table Dinner. The knots of hearts, made by the students themsevles, symbolise love and care. After the dinner, Professor James Tang delivered a closing speech. He expressed his gratitude to all collaborating universities for organising the Programme, and said that the UGC would continue encouraging and supporting pedagogical innovations in Hong Kong. The dinner was concluded with a cake-cutting ceremony.

A participant of the programme said: “The programme has really given me the opportunity to overcome mental hurdles and enhance self-confidence.”

“I have refined my skills in leadership, socialising, and presentation,” said another programme participant.

Following the end of the first annual HAVE, U Can Programme, continual efforts will be dedicated to support future programmes. It is hoped that through programmes like this, the importance of holistic competencies for students and institutions can be highlighted, leading to educational and cultural shift towards balancing the importance of holistic competencies with academic knowledge in the near future.

About HAVE, U Can Programme
The HAVE, U Can Programme is part of the UGC-funded Holistic Competency Hub, “HAVE Hub”. The three-year project is dedicated to supporting the development and assessment of holistic competencies in the higher education. The hub’s programmes and work include professional development workshops, designing teaching packs for teachers, as well as student competition and programmes for further enhancement of holistic competencies. Dr Cecilia Chan, Head of Professional Development and Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong is the Principal Leader of this project.

Website: http://havehub.cetl.hku.hk/ | Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/HAVEcentre/

For more information about the HAVE, U Can Programme, please contact Ms. Luk at 3917 5272/ ytluk89@hku.hk.

SOURCE / The University of Hong Kong

 
 
ASEAN Center authorized to operate in Thailand as a foreign NGO
 
Jul 01, 2018
Category:

On 7 March 2018, the Thai Ministry of Labour's "Committee to Consider the Operation of Foreign Private Organizations" granted permission to Kyoto University’s ASEAN Center in Bangkok to operate as a foreign non-governmental organization (NGO). The NGO certificate was presented 24 May by Ms Supapitchaya Ruengves, the Ministry's labour specialist, to ASEAN Center Director Mamoru Shibayama, who is also a KyotoU professor emeritus.

As a certified NGO, the ASEAN Center aims to further expand its activities promoting research, education, and other forms of collaboration among Japan, Thailand, and ASEAN universities and other institutions.

Labour Specialist Ruengves and Director Shibayama

SOURCE / Kyoto University

 
 
Fullshare Holdings and Sparrow Early Learning join forces with FC Internazionale Milano as Official Education Partner Inter Academy Australia launched in Queensland
 
Jun 29, 2018
Category:

(27 June 2018 - Australia) Fullshare Holdings Limited ("Fullshare"; stock code: 607.HK) kicked off its partnership with FC Internazionale Milano ("Inter Milan") by launching Inter Academy Australia, the first Inter Milan football academy located in Australia, targeted at kids aged 3 to 15 years old.

Inter Milan, an Italian Serie A Club and 3-times UEFA Champions League winner, has designated Fullshare and Sparrow Early Learning ("Sparrow") as its Official Education Partner. Inter Academy Australia will be delivered in conjunction with Sparrow, a subsidiary of Fullshare. Sparrow is one of Australia's leading early education and care providers offering a high-quality learning and nurturing program in beautiful facilities led by caring and qualified educators. Sparrow is committed to guiding and encouraging each child through their early years to have unique and meaningful experiences.

Sparrow will provide children the opportunity to participate in the Inter Academy offerings in Australia, which includes soccer classes at Sparrow locations, after school soccer classes, soccer classes during vacation care and holiday soccer camps. Sparrow will partner with the Brisbane Roar FC Community Team who will provide technical assistance to Inter Academy Australia in Queensland. The Brisbane Roar FC Community Team would cooperate with Sparrow to deliver Inter Academy's trusted curriculum at locations across Queensland.

The event was attended by Inter Chief Communication and Marketing Officer, Mr. Robert Faulkner, and Inter Academy coach Mr. Andrea Ratti, both of whom met with guests and the press, accompanying them during the launch. The group from Inter visited one of Sparrow's centres in Brisbane and were impressed by the quality of the facilities and the eagerness of the children to participate in Inter Academy Australia.

"This is a very significant partnership for both companies" said Inter's Mr. Robert Faulkner during the presentation, "as it allows our Club to reach new countries with huge potential via our experienced coaches and using our unique and trusted coaching method of the Inter Academy. Thanks to the support of Sparrow, our local partner in the Asia Pacific region, we will roll-out this model quickly across Australia, and beyond in the near future."

Co-head of Investment Department at Fullshare, Mr. Jonathan Broughton highlighted that, "Fullshare is proud to unveil the first Inter Academy offering in Australia as part of Fullshare's expanding presence in the education and tourism sectors of Australia. We are already looking forward to expanding Inter Academy's presence in Australia for children aged 3 to 15 years old and promoting sports education and a healthy lifestyle. We look forward to children joining the Sparrow family and participating in the upcoming Inter Academy Australia events."

CEO of Sparrow, Mr. John Bairstow commented that: "What children learn in the early years has a profound and dramatic impact on their entire life. Countless independent studies have found that teaching children the importance of sport and healthy living improves the quality and duration of their lives and the community in which they live. We are extremely honored to have this opportunity to work with one of Europe's leading football clubs, which shares our passion of improving the lives of young people. This project will not only teach children about the benefits of playing this beautiful sport but expand their cultural awareness through getting closer to the Nerazzurri world and European football. We look forward to working successful with Inter on this project to inspire the next generation of Matildas and Socceroos. "

Fullshare Holdings Limited (607.HK)
Fullshare Holdings Limited is an international conglomerate listed in Hong Kong. The Company's business segments include renewable energy, tourism, education, and real estate. Fullshare is focused on growing its Tourism and Education business segments in the future.

SPARROW EARLY LEARNING PTY LTD.
Sparrow Early Learning Pty Ltd., headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, operates 28 childcare centers in Queensland and Victoria. Sparrow's centers cater to children from the ages of six months to six years old. Sparrow is a subsidiary of Fullshare Holdings Limited.

About FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A.
FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A. was founded in 1908 and just celebrated its 110th anniversary on 9 Mar 2018. Inter is widely recognized as one of the most successful football clubs across the globe. The club has won various championships including 18 Italian Championships, 7 Coppa Italia, 5 Italian Super Cups, and 3 UEFA Cups. Inter is the only Italian club that has won the "Treble" (UEFA Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup in the same year).

This press release is issued by DLK Advisory Limited on behalf of Fullshare Holdings Limited.

For enquiries, please contact:

DLK Advisory 金通策略
Tel: +852 2857 7101
Fax: +852 2857 7103

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
The ALARMING Impact of POOR HR POLICIES on Companies/Employees
 
JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Jun 24, 2018
Category:

As a leader, manager or supervisor of an organisation, you are responsible to create an environment at the workplace that enables people to thrive. What people underestimate is that Human Resource (HR) policy plays a vital role in the success of any business! The requirements on HR departments to formulate policies that can enable businesses to operate smoothly have never been higher.

HR Planning is integral to the efficient running and continued success of companies. Sometimes, many organisations have a poorly skilled management team in terms of “EI” and “Soft Skills” in addition to an inconsequential HR department. This can be due to several reasons such as certain business factors or extraneous circumstances. Consequently, the result of a poor human resource planning has an immediate and long-term impact in terms of recruitment procedure, management and overall profitability. This in turn affects the company’s daily functioning.

An incompetent and poorly functioning HR department reflects the overall state of affairs of an organisation and its possible uncompetitive position in the marketplace. There is a disconnect between the HR Department and the Executive Management which as a result leads to miscommunication, poor decision making on operational aspects and critical mistakes. Employee training and development programs are not properly budgeted or even planned and there is no design hiring process or hiring practices that work. A Bad HR planning ensures that the HR assets of an organization are not aligned to its organizational goals and objectives. A failure in this regard can hurt businesses seriously.

The Consequences:

1. Unhappy Employees - decreases productivity, engagement and workplace morale – contagious

2. Dissatisfied Customers - unhappy employees can never make customers happy as they treat customers just the way their company treats them – boomerang effect. The worst part is dissatisfied customers are four times more likely to buy from a competitor brand and spread negative word of mouth – brand damaging

3. High Employee Turnover - especially of productive and skillful workers

4. Loss of Business - when an experienced employee leaves, the business not only loses a great worker but it also loses the value which the employee carries with him/her and the clients he/she had built strong relations with over a period of time. The misery just doesn’t end here – loss of trust, extensive knowledge of products, services, processes and systems which makes them even more valuable.

More importantly and on top of it, these employees have unparalleled experience which enables companies to know what has worked for them and what has not worked for them at all in the past. Another domino effect is that good employees have a beneficial influence on their co-workers therefore their “departure” badly impacts the culture of an organisation too.

5. Increased Business Costs - finding a replacement is often inevitable – recruiting process, adequate employee training, acquiring new customers – incur higher costs

6. Unmotivated Employees - due to indifferent attitude of the top management, key position holders and HR can quickly filter across the entire organisational structure and hierarchies. Therefore, work ethics can be affected, personality conflicts arise and teamwork becomes non-existent. As well as this, poor motivation, lack of communication and recognition lead to an overall poor performance.

7. Employee Demand-Supply Mismatch - is based on the continuous business cycle such as business growth, expansion plans and requirements for specific projects where the “right” employees need to be hired. In a mismanaged organisation, HR personnel, management and/or supervisors with a lack of awareness in personnel needs, misdirected attitude and lack of communication are hard-pressed to address workforce requirements. Vacancies and job-postings either don’t get filled in time or don’t get filled at all (i.e. The Trump Administration), negatively affecting key business functions – “knock-on effect” across organization

8. Organisational Re-Structures – Due to a malfunctioning business practice, decisions taken by top managers such as organizational re-structures, aim to improve the overall performance of a business and at monitoring the effectiveness of an organization's structures, but often leads to the exact opposite. Most of the key positions of an organisation perform their roles in a way that only reflects and focuses on their own personal goals. The personal preferences and agendas of a department’s senior managers influence the performance outcomes of that department. The organizational structure is inorganic, lacks alignment and is less versatile which tend to cause miscommunication in the overall strategy of the organisation. An open and fluid structure will have a more exemplary performance record.

The Top Five Signs that define poor management:

1. Micromanagement
2. Poor Communication
3. Stubbornness (i.e, not willing to listen to feedback or adapt to change)
4. Not Making Productive Use of Employees
5. Bad Attitude or Lack of Honesty towards Employees

These people shouldn’t be in key positions to lead or manage employees! When employees appreciate the tenor of their workplace, they thrive and perform better which in turn creates a better employee-retention rate and naturally improves productivity of a company.

Other senior personnel might have their goals in the right place, but execute them in ways that end up hurting the company and its reputation in the long run. Sometimes, the rules of the top management might have had logical beginnings but end up being completely ridiculous.

About the Author:

Juliana Mamoni, Founder and Director of the J MAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute and Author of "Contemporary Etiquette for Success at Work", “10 Power Soft Skills for Success at Work” and “Help Your Child Shine – Etiquette and Character Education Ages 5-17”, is a globally recognised Lifestyle expert, known by many as "The Life Guru". She is a BA graduate in Economics with a further degree in Hotel Management (Berlin), a diploma in Men's Fashion Design (Milan), coached by an assistant to the acclaimed late designer Gianni Versace. In addition, she has over 20 years of working experience in the exhibition & conference and hospitality industry.

She holds workshops and instructional meetings addressing Business, Social and Youth Etiquette. Her aim is simple: to help people make healthier, more socially appropriate choices, resulting in happier, more rewarding lives. She offers guidance on contemporary etiquette (mastering soft skills and emotional intelligence) among styling and healthy living.

 
 
Contact
Company JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Contact Juliana Mamoni
Telephone +65 833 279 23
E-mail info@jmamoni.com
Website http://www.jmamoni.com/
Taiwan's Education Ministry Launches Online Learning Initiative, Huayu 101
 
Jun 13, 2018
Category:

TAIPEI, Taiwan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced the launch of an online learning initiative called “Huayu 101”, a brand new online Mandarin learning material, at the end of May in Taipei, Taiwan.

Professor Chang Yuhsin from the University of Taipei, the designer of “Huayu 101”, has more than 20 years Mandarin teaching experience. In order to provide easier learning experience, he and his team collect key phrases that people should learn for basic survival. The contents of “Huayu 101” include accommodation, shopping, food ordering, traffic, emergency help, etc. It’s useful for foreign students and travelers those stay in Taiwan, and can be applied to other Mandarin-speaking regions.

To attract and motivate young people to learn Mandarin in Taiwan, MOE works with Logan D. Beck, a hotshot youtuber, to produce 2 videos of promoting Mandarin learning and Taiwan’s culture. The first video, “Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage” had reached 50,000 views within a night and it's over 150,000 hits now. In the press conference, Beck and Mr. Liu, a known rice cake seller, have shown the usage of “Huayu 101” with living drama of night market.

In response to the global demand for Chinese language education, Taiwan’s Chinese language education sector is vigorously looking outward and international marketing. This led to planning and implementing the Eight-year Chinese Language Education Promotion Plan (2013–2020). Under this plan the Office of Global Mandarin Education was set up to integrate the resources and results of Chinese language education in Taiwan. In order to promote Mandarin learning in Taiwan, MOE invited the Ministry of Transportation and Communication's Tourism Bureau and the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to be co-organizers, and integrated tourism and Chinese-learning resources to create a brand new study-tour model, "Mandarin On-the-Go" in Taiwan. Anyone who is interested in programs above is welcomed to check the information on the official website.(https://ogme.edu.tw/Home/tw)

Contacts
OGME (Office of Global Mandarin Education)
Kuo-Ning Chi, +886-2-2391-1368 ext.1360
c1360@csd.org.tw

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
NUS biologists discover gene responsible for unique appearance of butterflies’ dorsal wings
 
Jun 10, 2018
Category:

The apterous A gene also impacts dorsal wing eyespot patterns and sex-specific traits

Butterflies often display strikingly different colour or patterns on the dorsal (top) and ventral (bottom) sides of their wings. A study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has revealed that the gene apterous A is responsible for the appearance of the dorsal wings of butterflies.

This interesting discovery was made when Associate Professor Antonia Monteiro and her PhD student, Ms Anupama Prakash, who are from the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science, studied the expression and functions of apterous A in the African squinting bush brown butterfly, Bicyclus anynana, which has a well annotated genome, during its wing developmental stage.

Patterns on each wing surface serve different functions

The diversity in the appearance of the dorsal and ventral wings of many butterflies has evolved due to the varying functions of each wing surface.

When the butterflies are resting with their wings closed, the ventral surfaces are exposed; the patterns on these surfaces usually enable camouflage and avoidance of predators. In contrast, the dorsal surfaces, seen when the wings are opened, are often coloured and patterned specifically to attract potential mates. The mechanisms involved in how these distinct differences occur, however, were not clear.

apterous A gene responsible for unique appearance of dorsal wing

The gene apterous A has been found to play a role in the wing development of some insect species, in functions such as the outgrowth of the wing and determination of the dorsal-ventral boundary. The research team thus hypothesised that it could be involved in differentiating the appearance of the two wing surfaces.

The NUS biologists investigated the expression of apterous A in the butterfly’s wings and then selectively removed it from the genome in a gene knockout process to verify its functions in wing development and patterning.

The experiments revealed that apterous A was expressed solely on the dorsal wing surfaces of the butterflies, and not on the ventral surfaces. Additionally, during the gene knockout process, the researchers discovered that mutating apterous A in the butterflies’ genome caused defects in wing development.

However, the scientists also observed additional effects on the butterfly wings.

“When this gene is mutated, the dorsal wing patterns of butterflies with the mutated genome develop the same patterns as their ventral wing surfaces. This means that apterous A is involved in the determination of the appearance of the dorsal surface,” said Ms Prakash.

This gene is likely to interact with other genes found on the dorsal wing surfaces to direct the patterning of the dorsal wing surface.

Inhibitor of eyespot patterns

During their studies, the NUS team discovered that apterous A also acts as an inhibitor of the formation of eyespot patterns — markings that resemble an eye — on the dorsal surfaces of the butterfly wings. When the gene was deleted, multiple additional eyespots developed on these dorsal wing surfaces – as many as the number present on the ventral surfaces.

“In the evolution of butterfly wing patterns, eyespots appeared on the dorsal wing surfaces of butterflies long after their origin on the ventral surfaces, but the reason for this was unclear,” said Assoc Prof Monteiro.

She added, “We discovered that in the small regions on the dorsal wing surfaces where a few eyespot centres were observed, there was an absence of apterous A gene expression. This implies that the local repression of apterous A is likely to have caused eyespots to finally develop at these locations.”

apterous A gene involved in sex-specific wing traits

The researchers also noticed that the presence of the apterous A gene had an effect on sex-specific wing traits on the fore- and hindwings on the dorsal surfaces. On males’ dorsal forewings, it acts as a repressor, inhibiting the male pheromone producing organs and silver scale development. On their dorsal hindwings however, it acts as an activator, promoting the development of pheromone disseminating hairs and silver scales.

The NUS researchers believe that the apterous A gene likely interacts with other sex-specific and wing-specific factors to impact the development of these traits.

Application as a biomarker and future work

“This study has identified a gene that influences surface-specific wing patterns in butterflies. This can potentially be used as a biomarker to understand how specific cells produce the different colours and patterns that we see on butterfly wings,” said Ms Prakash.

“Since apterous A is expressed only in cells of the dorsal surface, we can now identify dorsal-specific cells based on this gene expression. This is very useful if, for example, we want to study how a certain colour develops. In some butterfly species such as the Morphos, the ventral surface is mostly brown while the dorsal surface is blue. Isolating dorsal-specific cells by using apterous A as a marker can help us study how these blue scales are developing,” she elaborated.

Looking forward, the research team will continue studying the function of the apterous A gene in butterflies. This will include determining if the gene performs similarly in other families of butterflies, and in butterflies without surface-specific wing patterns, as well as investigating the way it represses eyespot pattern development.

The findings were published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London in early 2018.

SOURCE / National University of Singapore

 
 
Novel water-absorbing gel invented by NUS researchers harnesses air moisture for practical applications
 
Jun 10, 2018
Category:

Unique hydrogel performs eight times better than commercial drying agents, blocks sunlight, conducts electricity and powers small devices

High humidity causes discomfort and makes hot days feel more unbearable. A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has invented a novel gel-like material that not only effectively dehumidifies ambient air to improve thermal comfort, but it also harnesses the moisture in the air for a wide range of practical applications, such as functioning as a sun or privacy screen, conductive ink and even a battery. And all these interesting properties are inherent in the material after water absorption, without a need for external power.

The unique hydrogel is a form of zinc oxide – a compound found in sunscreen – in a gel-like state. It can absorb water from the surrounding environment more than 2.5 times its weight and performs at least eight times better than commercial drying agents. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, and is also cheap and easy to produce.

“Singapore, like many tropical countries, experience high levels of relative humidity between 70 to 80 per cent. In a humid environment, the air is saturated with water and as a result, sweat on our body evaporates more slowly. This causes us to feel hotter than the actual ambient temperature, leading to great discomfort. Our novel hydrogel aims to achieve a cooling effect by removing moisture from ambient air very efficiently,” said Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, who led the research.

“This novel hydrogel performs at least eight times better than existing drying agents, such as silica gel and calcium chloride, in removing moisture from the air – it can absorb more water, works faster and uses less material. Unlike energy-intensive dehumidifying and air-conditioning systems, this hydrogel does not require electricity to operate. It can be easily coated onto walls, windows and even decorative items (such as a sculpture) to perform the dehumidifying function,” Asst Prof Tan added.

Enhancing thermal comfort

Hydrogels are materials which contain large amounts of water and are commonly used in contact lenses, wound dressing and personal care products. Recently, hydrogels are also used for biomedical applications, such as tissue engineering and drug delivery. However, the ability of hydrogels to absorb water from surrounding air has not been well explored.

The novel hydrogel developed by the NUS Engineering team extracts water molecules from surrounding air directly, and reduces relative humidity in a confined space from 80 per cent to 60 per cent – within the thermal comfort zone – in less than seven minutes.

This material is suitable for reducing relative humidity in both indoor and outdoor environments, such as in hospital wards and classrooms without air conditioning, as well as in parks and bus stops.

Harnessing humidity for wide-ranging applications

Asst Prof Tan explained, “Moisture in the air is an abundant resource, but there are few attempts to harvest and put it to good use. When our novel hydrogel absorbs water, we observed that it displays interesting optical, electrical and electrochemical properties. This opens up a wide range of useful applications.”

After taking in water from the environment, the novel hydrogel becomes opaque and reduces infrared transmission by about 50 per cent. This translates into a reduction in ambient temperature by more than seven degrees Celsius. Hence, the hydrogel can be used as a smart window material to block off the heat from natural sunlight while doubling up as a privacy screen. When used together with air conditioners, building or home owners could enjoy savings in energy cost as the cooler ambient air will require less electricity to chill it to the desired temperature.

Another interesting application of the hydrogel is to function as a conductive ink on printed circuit boards commonly found in electronic devices. The gel-like nature of the material makes it highly attractive for flexible electronics. The hydrogel can be erased easily with common solvents such as vinegar, so that the circuit boards could be reused. This would help to cut down electronic waste.

The research team also discovered that the hydrogel can generate about 1.8 volts of electricity – similar to the AA battery – which is sufficient to power devices such as a small digital clock. As such, the material may also be used as an emergency power source in situations where there is no sunlight or electricity supply.

These research findings have been published online in the scientific journal Energy & Environmental Science on 24 May 2018.

Next steps

The development of the novel hydrogel is supported by NUS and the Singapore Ministry of Education. Following the promising results of using the hydrogel to significantly reduce relative humidity, the research team, with support from the NUS Industry Liaison Office, has received substantial funding from Temasek Foundation Ecosperity to test this novel application on a larger scale in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

The NUS research team has filed a patent for their invention, and the researchers will conduct more studies to further advance the application of the different properties of the novel hydrogel.

 
 
World's largest innovation lab designed to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Singapore
 
May 23, 2018
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SINGAPORE --( ASIA TODAY )-- UNLEASH is a global innovation lab, convening 1,000 carefully selected millennial thought leaders from more than 100 countries, who will collaborate on ideas and solutions to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Singapore is the official host of UNLEASH 2018.

In 2017, the inaugural UNLEASH was held in August in Denmark, convening 1,000 talents from 129 countries. Last November, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was handed the host country torch for UNLEASH 2018 by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. “We each have a valuable contribution to make to sustainable development,” observed PM Lee Hsien Loong. “I am happy that Singapore’s private sector will be hosting UNLEASH 2018 and doing their part for the Sustainable Development Agenda. This gathering of young, creative and innovative minds will harness the power of human ingenuity, to create imaginative solutions that achieve the SDGs.”

For the upcoming event from May 30 to June 6, UNLEASH has again handpicked 1,000 talents from more than 100 countries, who will work on challenges related to the SDGs, in eight different themes: Zero Hunger, Health, Education, Water & Sanitation, Energy, Sustainable Cities, Responsible Supply Chain & Consumption, and Climate Action. UNLEASH, a nonprofit, is sponsored by leading organizations within their fields, including DBS Bank, Deloitte, National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek, Keppel Corporation, Sembcorp Industries, Hempel Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation, PSA International, Ramboll Foundation, SP Group, ST Engineering, and World Diabetes Foundation.

This year’s UNLEASH program will integrate powerhouse Singaporean businesses with local ways of living, thinking, and working: “Singapore embodies UNLEASH’s values of innovation, multi-culturalism, and cross-sector partnerships,” says Flemming Besenbacher, chairman of UNLEASH, Carlsberg Group, and the Carlsberg Foundation. “I’m looking forward to welcoming the new group of talents and to cement UNLEASH’s status as a global and influential movement for the SDGs.”

An 8-day program to spark innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

UNLEASH starts on May 30, when talents will be guided through a day of activities at Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU), The Wave. Scheduled speakers include the founder of the World Toilet Organization Jack Sim; and the founder of the Mara Group Ashish Thakkar.

Starting May 31, the talents will go through a four-day Innovation Lab held at NUS and NTU. The talents will form teams that work on solutions within their areas of expertise. The lab will be facilitated by Lead Innovation Partner Deloitte, who is continuing their involvement in UNLEASH from last year.

On June 5, the talent teams will pitch their solutions to experts, mentors and peers at NUS. Teams will then go on to showcase their solutions to the public at the market place, which will be held alongside Ecosperity, Temasek’s annual sustainability-focused conference at Suntec Convention Centre.

On June 6, the final day of UNLEASH, five winning teams will be picked to receive special prizes at the UNLEASH Closing Ceremony. Here, 1,400 local and international stakeholders will convene to celebrate the talents and be inspired by speakers such as President of Singapore Mdm Halimah Yacob; Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta; Oscar-winning actor and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker; CEO of DBS Bank Piyush Gupta; and UNDP Innovation Champion Sophia the Robot.

Execution partners are the Carlsberg Foundation, Dalberg, and UNDP.

Interviews with organizers, talents or VIPs can be arranged upon request.

UNLEASH Partners

UNLEASH works with a range of partners. The Diamond partners of UNLEASH include DBS Bank, Deloitte, National University of Singapore, and Temasek. UNLEASH also works with a range of track sponsors and ecosystem partners, who provide guidance and help to the talents.

Partner quotes

“We believe that businesses have a fundamental role to play in sustainable development. DBS is proud to be a key partner of UNLEASH, and to be championing social entrepreneurship – a cornerstone of our sustainability agenda. We’re excited to be supporting the 1,000 bright young minds coming together to create solutions for a better future, and to be part of an important initiative that contributes towards the SDGs.”

- Sim S. Lim, Singapore Country Head, DBS Bank

“Having played a role in the success of the inaugural UNLEASH in 2017, we are honoured to continue our support as lead innovation partner and bring this meaningful experience to Singapore. Deloitte will be sending a global team of 50 facilitators to help the UNLEASH talents advance their ideas through the innovation process and we are excited to see how these wonderful ideas can be translated to help make the world more sustainable for the future.”

- Philip YUEN, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore

“Temasek is a generational investor and we believe in creating opportunities for the next generation. That is why we are happy to welcome UNLEASH as a partner for Ecosperity this year. Ecosperity is more than a conference. It is an intergenerational effort to build a sustainable tomorrow – starting today.”

- Robin Hu, Head, Sustainability & Stewardship Group, Temasek

“The National University of Singapore (NUS) is proud to be a Diamond Partner for UNLEASH. We wholeheartedly support UNLEASH’s search for innovative solutions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). NUS itself is committed to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of university life, from research, education, and enterprise, to public service and operations. NUS is pleased to provide accommodation for the 1,000 talents and to host many of the Innovation Lab activities on our campus. Our experts in various SDG themes will also guide the talents on their innovation process.”

- Professor TAN Eng Chye, President of the National University of Singapore

For further information, contact:
Julie Buur Trærup,
M: +6581514302,
Email: press@unleash.org
W:www.unleash.org

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
Fullshare (607.HK) Has Been Named Official Education Partner of F.C. Internazionale Milano S.p.A
 
May 21, 2018
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(20 May 2018 - Hong Kong) Fullshare Holdings Limited (Stock Code: 607.HK) is proud to become an official education partner of F.C. Internazionale Milano S.p.A as of 18 May. Fullshare is exploring joint initiatives in the education industry in the Asia Pacific region.

Fullshare plans to establish an Inter Academy in Australia together with Sparrow Early Learning Pty Ltd. ("Sparrow"), a subsidiary of the Group which operates 28 childcare facilities across Australia. The Inter Academy will provide children of all ages an invaluable opportunity to access sports education under the mentorship of world-class coaches and players. With the support from the Group's resources in Australia, Fullshare is considering to introduce the Inter Brand to the Asia Pacific Region.

Co-head of Investment Department at Fullshare, Mr. Jonathan Broughton highlights that, "We are proud to become the official education partner of F.C. Internazionale. Fullshare is looking forward to promoting sports education and a healthy lifestyle for children via the Inter Academy Australia. Following on our sponsorship of the 2018 Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, the partnership with Inter demonstrates our support of world-class sports."

CEO of Sparrow, Mr. John Bairstow, stated that "The philosophy of Sparrow is to nurture the love of learning and to build a happy childhood. Rooted on such beliefs, we are actively exploring various programs and activities around the world to expand and diversify the scope of our curriculums. Leverage on the brand awareness, the professionalism in football as well as the successful track record of Inter Academy, we will be able to provide a one of a kind football experiences. Through such collaboration, Sparrow will further solidify our foundation as a pioneer in enlightenment educations to children."

- END -
About Fullshare Holdings Limited (Stock Code: 607.HK)
Fullshare Holdings Limited is a Chinese conglomerate focused on tourism and early education. The Group operates numbers of world-class prestigious tourist resorts, including "Sheraton Mirage Hotel" and "Laguna Whitsundays" in Australia, and "ORTO Park" in Singapore. Fullshare also operates 28 childcare centers in Queensland and Victoria via its subsidiary, Sparrow Early Learning Pty Ltd.

About FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A.
FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A. was founded in 1908 and just celebrated its 110th anniversary on 9 Mar 2018. Inter is widely recognized as one of the most successful football clubs across the globe. The club has won various championships including 18 Italin Championships, 7 Coppa Italia, 5 Italian Super Cups, and 3 UEFA Cups. Inter is the only Italin club that has won the "Treble" (UEFA Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup in the same year).

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com