FASS Academics Awarded The Social Science And Humanities Research Fellowship And Social Science Research Thematic Grant

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Lin Weiqiang, Department of Geography and Associate Professor Irene Ng, Department of Social Work on being awarded the inaugural Social Science and Humanities Research (SSHR) Fellowship and Social Science Research Thematic Grant (SSRTG) respectively.

Awardee of the Social Science and Humanities Research (SSHR) Fellowship: Dr Lin Weiqiang

The SSHR fellowship was launched in August 2018 as the Social Science Research Council (SSRC)’s first talent development scheme. It seeks to nurture local talent and strengthen the social science and humanities research ecosystem in Singapore, whilst bolstering the careers of promising academics whose research programmes are grounded in issues of strategic and policy relevance to Singapore. With this fellowship, Dr Lin will receive research funds of up to $1 million over five years.



Assistant Prof Lin Weiqiang is a leading mobilities geographer who specialises in the areas of air transport, logistics, and the production of infrastructure. Dr Lin began this theorizing work in 2013, when he co-convened a conference on Theorising Mobilities in/of Asia, in collaboration with the Asia Research Institute, NUS. His work has been well-received internationally, and influenced a wide range of scholarship through critical reflections on air transport, including mobility studies, political geography, science and technology studies, urban studies, and social theory. He currently sits on the editorial board of Mobilities, a leading journal of mobility studies, and is a section editor of Transfers.

Dr Lin obtained his PhD in Geography from the University of London in 2014 and was appointed Assistant Professor at NUS Department of Geography in 2016.



With this research, Dr Lin aims to understand the inner-workings of the aviation industry and offer unique research insights on sustainable, responsible, and humane maintenance of airport infrastructures. It will pay particular attention to four airport functions, namely (a) passenger formalities (check-in); (b) airside services (gate and connections); (c) baggage handling; and (d) apron logistics (tarmac operations). Specifically, the project will uncover the daily routines of workers in the aviation industry, how workers are incorporated into the aviation ecosystem, and how they interact with aviation technology.

Dr Lin will study operations and infrastructures of airports in four cities–Beijing, Dubai, Jakarta, and Singapore. The study employs a number of methods: interviews with airport workers and managerial-level staff to understand their personal experience; site visits to learn about the work environment; as well as textual analysis of new articles and reports to understand the transitions to automotive technologies and practices in labour management.

This project will advance global theoretical knowledge on airport infrastructures, labour and technology, and inform policies to minimise the risk of attrition, non-cooperation, and disruption that could arise from the poor management of labour. The project will also contribute to a new awareness of mobility justice by focusing on workers who tend to work long hours, are poorly paid, and are often segregated based on race and gender, migrant workers and/or aged workers who are employed on a ‘use-and-discard’ basis.

In light of Singapore’s pursuit of a larger role for aviation, this project offers unique and significant research insights on the sustainable, responsible, and humane maintenance of airport infrastructures.

Awardee of the Social Science Research Thematic Grant: A/P Irene Ng

Launched in 2016, the SSRTG represents one of the SSRC’s key initiatives to support “high-quality and impactful” interdisciplinary research pertaining to Singapore and Asia. Winning projects are selected based on intellectual merit and their potential impact on and contribution to society and the economy.

Associate Professor Irene Ng is the only awardee receiving Type B funding. Type B projects will receive funding of between $1 million to $10million over 3 to 5 years to support larger-scale research, and encourage collaboration between research institutes to pursue more ambitious, interdisciplinary research on issues of cross-cutting interest.



Irene Y.H. Ng is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of the Social Service Research Centre in the National University of Singapore. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Economics from the University of Michigan. Her research areas include poverty and inequality, intergenerational mobility, youth crime, and social welfare policy. Her research projects include an evaluation of a national Work Support program; National Youth Surveys 2010, 2013 and 2017; a study of low-income households with debt; and an evaluation of Social Service Offices. She is active in the community, serving or having served in committees in the Ministry of Social and Family Development, National Council of Social Service, Ministry of Manpower, and various voluntary welfare organizations. Her teaching areas include poverty, policy, welfare economics, youth work, and program planning.




New vulnerabilities are being created by the new disrupted economy. This project seeks to gain new insights on the kinds of “in-work” poverty (i.e. experiencing poverty while being employed) that the working class are experiencing. It will focus on the challenges faced by less educated young workers (aged between 21 and 40) and their efforts at advancement, an area that has received less attention.

Using traditional and technology-based mixed methods, the project will gain deep and wide understanding of the lived realities of younger low-waged workers through surveys, interviews, ethnographic studies, and data inputs using a mobile application.

Through these, we hope to understand the interactions of work and earnings with young workers’ mental health and cognitive ability, and how they use their social networks to navigate jobs, family and advancement. The insights gained from this project seeks to inform Singapore on improving the reach of formal programmes to younger low-wage workers, the design of programmes to better meet their needs, and the optimisation of their social networks as a resource to help themselves.

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