Core Faculty Team


Chan Heng Chee

PhD, Political Science, University of Singapore

Chan Heng Chee is Ambassador-at-Large with the Singapore Foreign Ministry. She chairs the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She is Chairman of the National Arts Council, a Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a Member of the Constitutional Commission 2016, a Member of the Presidential Elections Commission and Deputy Chairman of the Social Science Research Council. Ambassador Chan is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore and a Member of the Yale-NUS Governing Board.

Previously, she was Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States and Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations with concurrent accreditation as High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico.

Samson Lim

PhD, History, Cornell University

Samson Lim is an Assistant Professor of History at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He received his Ph.D. in History at Cornell University. His research examines the connections between technology, capitalism, and culture. His first book, Siam’s New Detectives: Visualizing Crime and Conspiracy in Modern Thailand (University of Hawaii Press, 2016), is a history of the visual culture of policing in Thailand between during the early 20th century. He is currently working on a new project, which will be a cultural history of capitalism and the money economy as seen through the lens of financial crimes in early twentieth century Bangkok. He is also a member of the Opportunity Lab at SUTD, a centre at SUTD that encourages social change through design projects throughout Asia.

Ate Poorthuis

PhD, Geography, University of Kentucky

Ate Poorthuis is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Singapore University of Technology and Design, where he heads up the Spatial Networks Lab. His research explores the possibilities and limitations of big data through quantitative analysis and visualization. Recent work focuses on the use of big data and social media platforms as a method to critically understand how urban spaces ‘work’. How do people use and perceive their neighbourhoods and the city-at-large? How do people move across large urban systems? And how do people respond to key events such as natural disasters?

Ate has a keen interest in the practical application of these academic insights within urban planning and policy and acts as a consultant to various government agencies. He is also the co-founder of The DOLLY Project, a repository of billions of geolocated social media, that strives to address the difficulties of using big data within the social sciences.

John Powers

PhD, Urban Planning, Columbia University

John Powers’ research areas are in the fields of city and regional planning and economics, particularly in comparative metropolitan regional economic growth and development. He focuses on planning and economic theory to study how human and organizational capabilities coalesce around economic and technological goals, and how this in turn helps create new structural meanings for urban systems.

Current research work and interests relate to the role of innovation in cities, the factors that propel it forward, and especially its connection to achieving more inclusive welfare-enhancing forms of development. Dr. Powers also has over a dozen years of management consulting and international experience for Booz Allen Hamilton as well as full-time positions with international organizations such as the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This work has been focused on international development, economic policy, growth strategy, privatization and public-private partnership development, infrastructure planning and investment, public sector reform, and has entailed extensive in-country roles across Africa, East and Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Affiliated Faculty


Lynette Cheah

PhD, Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lynette Cheah is an Assistant Professor with the Engineering Systems and Design Pillar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Modern-day transportation is heavily dependent on petroleum, which presents challenging energy and environmental problems. Lynette is passionate about achieving sustainable mobility, and her research has focused on developing models and tools to assess the life-cycle energy and environmental impacts of road transport.

Prior to joining SUTD, Lynette was a research scientist with the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. She was also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Materials Systems Laboratory at MIT, and a research assistant at the Sloan Automotive Laboratory at MIT. She is a Singapore National Science Scholar and a Fellow with the Martin Family Society for Sustainability.

Joshua Comaroff

PhD, Geography, University of California Los Angeles

Joshua Comaroff was raised in Chicago, USA, and studied literature, linguistics, and creative writing at Amherst College before joining the Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

He has worked for and studied under Rem Koolhaas, Rafael Moneo, Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti, Preston Scott Cohen, and David Adjaye. Joshua initially began working with Ong Ker-Shing in the firm Lekker Design in 2002, and later with Lekker Architects (founded 2015). In 2009, Josh completed a PhD in cultural geography at University of California Los Angeles, writing on the subject of haunted landscapes and urban memory in Singapore. He has published writing about architecture, urbanism, and politics, with an Asian focus. His articles have been published in Public Culture, Cultural Geographies, Journal of Architectural Education, and elsewhere. He is also a regular contributor to the Harvard Design Magazine. With Shing, he is co-author of Horror In Architecture.

Lyle Fearnley

Joint Ph.D., Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco

Lyle Fearnley is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at SUTD. Trained as an anthropologist of science and medicine, Fearnley received a Joint Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco. His fieldwork-based research explores the assemblages of science and rural life in contemporary China, where agricultural modernization projects are giving rise to new environmental and health risks. His book project — The Influenza Epicenter: Rural China and Animal Disease in an Age of Emerging Pandemics —analyzes the encounters of global health and China’s livestock farms during the avian influenza crisis. Currently, he is developing a new project on the contested futures of rice breeding and genetics in China. The project analyzes the intersections of Chinese rice genome research, food safety movements, and the human-environment configurations of wet-rice paddy agriculture.

Poon King Wang

MSc, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Stanford University

Poon King Wang is the Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the BCA Centre for Sustainable Buildings Ltd (a collaboration between Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority and United Nations Environment Programme). He focuses on smart cities, digital economies and societies, and the future of work, education and healthcare.

Prior to SUTD, King Wang served in the public sector in the Economic Development Board; Ministry of Law; Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR); and the Competition Commission of Singapore. His areas of responsibilities included cluster development, intellectual property, technology futures, STEM outreach, technology commercialization, ASEAN collaborations, and international trade agreements. In the private sector, he was head of business analytics at one of Singapore’s largest regional banks, and was a strategy advisor to a mobile local search start up.

Gabe Tusinski

PhD, Anthropology, University of Chicago

Gabriel Tusinski received his PhD from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Trained in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology, his research draws on semiotic approaches to material and visual culture to examine contemporary political transformations in urban Southeast Asia. His dissertation “The Spectral City: Cultural Belonging, Urban Space, and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Dili, Timor-Leste” explored how post-conflict urban architectural reconstruction projects and nation-building discourses in the capital city of Timor-Leste at once revitalize indigenous Timorese cultural sensibilities about house-based kinship and simultaneously frame these kinship practices as incompatible with democratic ideals. Some of his current scholarly interests include: urban space, domestic and vernacular architecture, material culture studies, kinship, violence, sovereignty and nation-building, multilingualism, language and semiotic ideologies, and space, place, and landscape.