Gopalasamy Reuben Clements

Associate Professor Gopalasamy Reuben Clements is a conservation scientist by training and a Research Fellow at the Jeffrey Sachs Center (JSC). He received his PhD in conservation science from James Cook University and obtained his MSc and BSc in biology from the National University of Singapore. Reuben’s research focuses on forest and biodiversity conservation and has published over 60 articles in international journals that include Nature, and his work has been featured in the BBC, New York Times and National Geographic. He also co-founded a local non-profit research organization known as Rimba, which conducts applied research on the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia. Reuben’s team is currently collaborating with the Terengganu state government to manage 30,000 hectares of forests protected as a state park. He also collaborates with the Federal government on tiger and large carnivore monitoring, wildlife law enforcement and policy improvement, land use and conservation planning (using GIS and remote sensing), sustainable forest management and wildlife corridor design and management. Reuben’s current project at JSC aims to make more economic arguments for forest and biodiversity conservation through the development and implementation of novel biofinancing mechanisms.


Kong Phui Yi

Phui Yi coordinates the center’s Master in Sustainable Development Management programme. A graduate of Bowdoin College, USA, Phui Yi holds an interdisciplinary degree in English and Theater, and a minor in Religion. In 2015, Phui Yi received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue an year-long independent project on a global scale in Civic Mindedness and the Physical Arts. Prior to joining JSC, Phui Yi worked as a high school teacher in Malaysia, teaching English, theatre and social studies.

Chen Jit Ern

Dr. Chen Jit Ern is a Research Fellow at the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development and a Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at Sunway University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences and a PhD in Plant Sciences. His primary research interest is in the development and utilization of genetic engineering techniques and molecular tools on various microalgae, to study the underlying mechanisms for physiological traits such as lipid accumulation and heat tolerance. His previous Post-Doctoral position was in KAUST, Saudi Arabia, studying the potential for increased heat-tolerance in Zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium microadriaticum), the photosynthetic coral endosymbiont, native to the Red Sea. His current project in Sunway University is a continuation of this work, with a particular emphasis on the study of heat-activated Zooxanthellae retrotransposons.


Lee Chooi Yee

Chooi Yee plays a key role in the planning, development and execution of events for both the Jeffrey Cheah Institute and the Jeffrey Sachs Center. She oversees the operations, communications, event planning, and brings together Sunway University’s staff and students to develop ideas on green event management. Chooi Yee has more than 10 years of administrative experience, including experience in corporate tax consulting, database development and project management. Before joining the JSC, she was an administrator for the teaching evaluation and GCHE program Monash University Malaysia. During this time, she was awarded PVC’s 2011 and 2012 Award for Excellence in Administration. Chooi Yee graduated with first class honours from University of Malaya in Economics (Honours) majoring in Applied Statistics.

Yeah Kim Leng

Professor Yeah is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Economic Studies Programme at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry and a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics. His research interests span development economics, monetary economics, capital markets and industry studies. These topics reflect his previous experiences as an economic analyst at a national policy think-tank, a chief economist at a credit rating agency and a lead consultant at an economics consultancy services subsidiary. His current project at the Jeffrey Sachs Center focuses on tax systems and structures and their effects on fiscal sustainability, economic growth and income inequality. He is an external member of the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Woo Wing Thye

Professor Woo heads both the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University. He also holds academic appointments at the University of California at Davis, Columbia University, Fudan University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Penang Institute. His research focuses on economies in transition, notably China, Malaysia and Indonesia, and he has written extensively on the middle-income trap, transition economics, globalisation, exchange rate economics and regional economic disparity. In 1997-1998, Prof Woo served as a special advisor to the U.S. Treasury, and headed the Asia Competitiveness Report 1999 to analyse the Asian financial crisis for the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was also the Special Advisor for East Asian Economies in the Millennium Project of the United Nations from 2002-2005. Prof Woo appears regularly in international media and is a contributor to Project Syndicate.

Shandre Mugan Thangavelu

Professor Shandre is the Vice President of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University. Before his appointment, he was a Regional Director at Centre for International Economic Studies at the Institute of International Trade in the University of Adelaide and the Director of the Asia Growth Research Centre at the university. He is an active researcher on human capital development, technology transfer, foreign direct investment, trade, government infrastructure investment, productivity and economic growth. He has written extensively on ASEAN integration, FDI, human capital development, technology transfer and economic growth and has published his research in major international journals. He has written several books on trade, investment, integration and outsourcing in Asia. He has also worked on several international projects commissioned by UNDP, World Bank, ASEAN Secretariat, APEC, and Asian Productivity Organization (APO).

Interview with Professor Shandre:



Mohamed Ariff Syed Mohamed

Professor Ariff is a Senior Fellow at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and the Head of the Department of Economics and Finance at the Sunway University Business School. He was awarded his PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia in 1986 and his MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA in 1976. Before joining Sunway University, Prof Ariff held positions at the business schools of National University of Singapore, Monash University and Bond University. His industry experience includes executive positions in a public listed firm and Singapore’s central bank. Prof Ariff is an active researcher in financial economics with contributions appearing in numerous international journals on finance and economics. His publications on Islamic finance have earned him international recognition. He manages the annual Foundation of Islamic Finance conference series.

Leong Choon Heng

Professor Leong is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Education and Social Progress Programme at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University. He teaches in the fields of sociology, public policy, transportation and logistics. His research is largely in the areas of sustainable development, community participation, sustainable transportation and education delivery systems. Prior to joining Sunway University, he was the President of the Malaysia University of Science and Technology and the Head of the Transportation and Logistics Programme. His experience also includes teaching at the National University of Singapore, working in the Institute of Strategic and International Studies which is a policy think-tank for the Malaysian government, and as consultant to several international organisations on social development and environmental assessment. He holds a PhD in Sociology from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College, USA.

Koh Hock Lye

Professor Koh is a proponent for the practical application of research to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. He conducts society-oriented research and outreach that integrates the three pillars of the SDGs (economic, environmental, social) in the areas of clean water and sanitation, and life under water and on land. His research has been published in various journals, spanning topics such as conservation, ecology, biodiversity, tsunami-resilient communities, affordable healthcare, climate adaptation strategies, and the application of mathematical modelling and artificial intelligence to enhance food security. Prof Koh Hock Lye received his BSc from University Malaya, and holds both an MA and a PhD in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin, Madison.