23 Aug 2018 Curiosity is Key to Career in Research

‘Be curious of everything. Search for truth when you face anonymity’

This has always been my dad’s pedagogy since I was a child. Unlike many parents who shy away from random questions, he welcomed my curiosity and encouraged it.

‘What is cancer? Why people die of cancer? How does someone survive through cancer?’
‘Why am I having flu? Why is Mum not having it?’

He could answer me in earlier days, but soon my curiosity became overwhelming and too much to handle. Nevertheless, he is always proud of me. In fact, he has inspired me to take up challenges in solving puzzles. In 2007, he suggested to me to apply for a research field course. I was a bit doubtful initially but decided to give it a try. When I joined the Biomedical Science programme at IMU, I knew he was right.

My life as an undergraduate student was like any other. I attended lectures, hang out with friends at the mamak stall, passed exams and etc. My favourite activity would be the practical lab works and PBL sessions. I truly enjoyed devising an experiment to prove a hypothesis. Every day I get to know and learn new skills which were very helpful later on. While other students despise writing practical reports, I actually find the process to be enjoyable! This has given me the chance to troubleshoot the experiment and figure out the queries. During PBL sessions, students are provided an opportunity to discuss a case study. From these sessions, I learned that group work is very beneficial in terms of sharing knowledge and accumulating experience.

I chose to pursue a Master of Science in Medical and Health Sciences (By Research) degree at IMU to further my passion in research. I’m very thankful for Dr Chye Soi Moi who has not only encouraged me but has helped me in many ways throughout the years. She has guided me through projects and inspired me in many ways to be a better researcher. In addition to that, I am ever grateful towards my supervisor, A/Prof Ng Chew Hee who has overlooked my growth for the past 4 years.

Life as a postgraduate student was way different, and certainly not what I have expected. Very often, I would need to juggle between work, management and problem solving. It was difficult initially and I would not have succeeded if it were not for my group of friends. I am very fortunate to have them in my life, knowing they will not hesitate to express their opinions and give me a hand in times of need. I have also made lots of friends by being a mentor to final year students in their projects. During my free time, I was offered to be a lab demonstrator for IMU Foundation in Science programme. In every session that I had with them, I encouraged them to be inquisitive, bold to express an idea and be confident when they are facing something unfamiliar.

I remember one of the students asked, ‘How do you keep motivating yourself in the research field for so many years?’

I replied, ‘Stay curious and you will find something new every day. You never know what you would discover and is jaw dropping. Give yourself a chance to be blown away’

Written by: IMU alumna, Ng Pei Ying.

Pei Ying graduated with her Master degree on 30 June 2018. Her thesis title was “Anticancer Property of Chiral Pairs of Ternary Copper (II) Complexes of 1,10-phenanthroline and Alanine”.

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