Internship Opportunity with Future Cities Laboratory (FCL)

October 26, 2018



Project Title: Understanding Walking Behaviours in Tropical Cities

FCL Project Team

  1. Prof Christoph Hölscher, Panos Mavros
    Cognition Perception and Behaviour in Urban Environments, Future Cities; Laboratory, Singapore ETH Centre
    Chair of Cognitive Science, ETH Zurich
  2. Prof John Zacharias, Wang Bin
    School of Architecture, Peking University


Tembusu College Coordinator

  1. Dr Margaret Tan
    Fellow & Director of Programmes, Tembusu College, National University of Singapore


  1. Project summary

This research project will investigate the environmental factors which influence pedestrian mobility patterns in tropical cities, taking Singapore as a case-study. The project aims to inform our understanding of walking habits of commuters in Singapore, the role of different urban design features in increasing pedestrian trips and encouraging active mobility, and has implications for the design of urban environments in Singapore as well as tropical cities at large.

The study will involve observing the walking behaviour of volunteer participants in different areas of Singapore, and evaluating how the design of the pedestrian environment, climate and other parameters influence people’s experience and motivation to walk.


  1. Number of positions

The project is looking for up to ten (10) research assistants, with each intern working 2 weeks (10 working days) for 16 hours per week (5 days X 3.2 hours). Please note that the number of working hours per week may increase or decrease based on the total number of interns and their schedules.


  1. Remuneration

Student interns will be paid an hourly remuneration of S$12.00, and will be reimbursed their transport cost for the field work.


  1. Project Timeline

The project involves data collection for two consecutive weeks (10 days) any time between 16 Nov 2018 and 13 Jan 2019.

The final timeline will be decided based on consultation between the Coordinator and all student interns.


  1. Requirements

Student interns are expected to work closely with the study coordinators to conduct a large-scale behavioural experiment study.

The research will involve on-site fieldwork in a major pedestrian precinct in Singapore for 3 hours per day (between 9AM – 8PM), repeated for 10 working days (two consecutive weeks).

Student interns will conduct an ‘intercept survey’, that is, asking people to voluntarily participate in a brief walking experiment and filling in surveys about their experience.

Prior to the beginning of the study, student interns will have to attend a mandatory half-day paid research seminar, where they will be briefed on the following:

  1. Motivation and aims of the research
  2. Training on the research methods and tools used for the data collection

Post internship, students will have to write a short report of their experience working with FCL on the project, including their learning journey. This report should be submitted to Dr Margaret at a time convenient for students, but before the end of the academic year.


  1. Learning outcomes

Through their participation in this study as research assistants, students will gain valuable experience in the following:

  1. Comprehension of how scientists conduct large-scale studies on walkability and human behaviour in cities;
  2. Involvement in an interdisciplinary research drawing from Behavioural Geography, Psychology and Planning;
  3. Understanding of spatial and environmental factors that influence pedestrian experience and movement patterns in cities, in the context of making cities more liveable and sustainable;
  4. Insights on the importance of human behaviour and preferences in the design of different systems;
  5. Data-collection methods through field-surveys with members of the public, and the gathering and coding of behavioural data using a mobile application (tablet computer);
  6. Contributing to a novel research on how to improve walkability in Singapore and tropical cities, and through which students’ contributions will be acknowledged in the main report of this research study.


Interested students, please contact Dr Margaret Tan @ by 5th November 2018.

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.