WKWSCI Houses NTU’s First Integrated Research Facility

The new Cognitive and Behavioural Sciences Laboratory in WKWSCI will allow for greater collaboration between NTU students, staff and research partners.

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Professors and students alike can now conduct research in Nanyang Technological University’s first integrated research hub — and right in our backyard too.

Launched on 21 September, the $3 million Cognitive and Behavioural Sciences Laboratory comprises three labs with different foci – physiological and social sciences, cognitive and behavioural. Researchers can also prepare food for their food-related experiments in the pantry located within the hub, which is opposite the Newsplex.

The research hub, spanning an area of three tutorial rooms, will permit more accurate research — with participants separated by rooms, rather than cubicles. This is a step up from the existing Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing Labs on the third storey of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

Professor Lee Kwan Min, Director of User Experience Lab at WKWSCI, who plans to use the hub heavily for his research and teaching needs in courses like Undergraduate Independent Research Project, said: “The hub’s unique layout will make it possible to conduct multiple lab experiments at the same time. In addition, multisensory rooms and equipment will provide valuable resources and measures which has not been possible at WKWSCI.”

“Multisensory rooms and equipment will provide valuable resources and measures which has not been possible at WKWSCI.”

Professor Lee Kwan Min
Director of User Experience Lab

Speaking at the launch, Research Director for Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences Professor Theng Yin Leng, who first proposed the hub’s construction, hopes the shared facilities of the three labs will bring about “creativity and cross-fertilisation of research ideas that employ novel research methods”.

The Integrated Multi-Sensory Research Lab tests the human senses with scenario-based experiments, while the Computer Mediated Communication Lab explores CMC’s impact on people. The Cognition Research Lab, on the other hand, analyses behavioural science theories and methods.

While each of the hub’s labs existed as distinct research spaces on campus, the launch marks the first time all three labs are coexisting together, said Prof Theng. She added that with this hub, a CMC and CR researcher can collaborate to research on a project that combines ideas and facilities of both.

The plan of having such a hub started in 2013 but was thwarted by insufficient funding, Prof Theng shared. But the budget was later made available by NTU in 2014 with the university’s invitation to submit a proposal of “a state-of-the-art research facility and equipment”.

“Part of the university’s role is to create knowledge and this is done through research. This lab environment is important for people to continue to search for answers to address their problems.”

Prof Theng says the challenge now lies in getting people excited to use it.