Alfred was one of the first two Singaporeans to join the Raffles Museum as curators. In 1967, shortly after it was renamed the National Museum, he became its first Singaporean Director. An ichythyologist by training, he contributed many type specimens, mostly of “fish” from the region, to the collection. He authored the seminal paper, ‘The Fresh-water Fishes of Singapore’ (1966), and this “fish” monograph remains an important reference, even today.
Serène was a French carcinologist who was the UNESCO taxonomist resident in the National Museum in the late 1960s. During his time in Singapore, he helped train many taxonomists from Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore; and was responsible for a resurgence of systematic work on decapod and stomatopod crustaceans. He published extensively on the crustaceans of Southeast Asia, and many of his specimens are still in the museum’s collections.