Women in Science: Dr Teoh Chai Lean, SBIC

The 'Women in Science' series aims to break down gender inequalities and celebrates the achievements of our female scientists and researchers in A*STAR. Hear their stories and discover how their unique personal lives and perspectives shape the great work they do.

Dr Teoh Chai Lean, Programme Management Officer, A*STAR's Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC)

Women in Science: Teoh Chai Lean, SBIC

Q: Tell us about what you do at A*STAR.

A: My journey in A*STAR started in a lab at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), where I developed fluorescence dye sensors to make the invisible become visible. Most notably, a probe for amyloid-beta oligomers in Alzheimer's disease.

Last year, I transitioned to my current role as a Programme Management Officer in SBIC. I manage the academic grants awarded to consortium and research compliance matters. My role also oversees the outreach and marketing initiatives to enhance the organisation’s research performance and profile.

Women in Science: Teoh Chai Lean

Recently, I've been reaching out to my peers within the A*STAR community to exchange best practices on process improvements at their research institutes. If you're a firm believer of programme management as an organisational asset and a key transformation enabler, I would love to see you at one of our Programme Management Officers (PMO) meet-up!

Q: What are your motivations for getting into this field of research?

A: Curiosity brought me here. Growing up, I wanted to be many things and I had a hard time picking one. As a child, I loved arts – my weekends were spent with my parents ferrying me around in support of my artistic endeavours. Science was never really in the picture. Though I did not start out with an ambition to be a scientist, curiosity got hold of me and led me to a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The fields of bioimaging and chemical biology are highly multidisciplinary which satisfy my need for breadth of knowledge and experience.

Q: What does being a woman in science today mean to you?

A: It means exploring how to exist at the intersection of different identities. It pushes me to take the first step, often the path less travelled. To learn to show up from a place of self-assuredness, and consistently ask. It’s really up to you to make things happen.

Women in Science: Teoh Chai Lean

Q: What do you have to say to young girls who want to pursue a career in science?

A: Girls may feel pressured to fit into stereotypes in STEM fields. Embrace your own unique identity and life journey. You can be in the field of science and still be who you are – your feminine, creative, artistic self for example!

Q: What is your biggest achievement to date?

A: Consistently saying yes to community engagement. To date, I have interacted with more than 1,000 like-minded individuals through science talks, including students who are considering a STEM career. Despite the challenges and lack of rewards, I believe in making the time and effort as a Science communicator to create visibility for both science and scientists in Singapore.

Women in Science: Dr Teoh Chai Lean engaging a group of students on A*STAR Research Exposure ProgramDr Teoh Chai Lean engaging a group of students on A*STAR Research Exposure Program, organised by A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA)

Q: What are your favourite pastimes outside of work?

A: In my free time, I am an avid reader, a Latin dancer and a social media junkie. I also celebrate my Chinese heritage and challenge the traditional stereotypes of Chinese femininity with a group of women at #HanfugirlsCollective.

Women in Science: Dr Teoh Chai Lean and Hanfugirls CollectiveHanfugirls Collective on Women and Art in Tang China at Stamford Arts Centre

Q: If you weren’t a researcher/scientist, what would you be right now?

A: I don't know... Just being my multi-passionate, multipotentialite self?

I have a big hunger for variety. I work best and feel most alive when I have multiple interesting projects happening in parallel. I believe in living a multifaceted life beyond an occupational label for a fulfilling human experience. I am learning to embrace my own unique identity and life journey.

Q: Coffee, tea or bubble tea?

A: Coffee, most of the time.

Women in Science: Dr Teoh Chai Lean

The Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) is a national bioimaging hub for biomedical research. Equipped with state-of-the-art instruments, they lead strategic partnerships for technology developments.

Keen to be part of SBIC and the big A*STAR family? Visit our A*STAR Careers page to find out more!