Sharing from Students of the Talent 100 PhD Scholarship Scheme
In 2020, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) launched the Talent 100 PhD Scholarship Scheme to enhance the University’s research capacity and elevate the standards of postgraduate training, in particular interdisciplinary research. Drawing on the training model of doctoral students from world-class universities, HKBU has adopted a Project-based Doctoral Research Training for students admitted by the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS), with the aim of allowing these students to learn through practice.
Listen to our students and learn about their study experience in HKBU’s interdisciplinary PhD training.
"I think this training is advanced. It gives us a chance to learn more knowledge that is not limited to our own research areas. This is helpful for us to produce all kinds of new ideas in future research. Under this training, I can get to know many things I didn't know before."
made you choose to pursue your PhD studies at HKBU?
Jianming: I chose to pursue my PhD studies at HKBU because Hong Kong is close to mainland China and has convenient transportation. More importantly, Hong Kong’s education system is more mature and international. HKBU is a famous university with international reputation, strong faculty and scientific research capabilities.
Li: In the summer of 2020, with the aggravation of the pandemic and the impact of unexpected policy changes, I was unable to pursue my PhD studies in the overseas institution where I got an offer. At the same time, HKBU opened a fast-track application for PhD study, the "Talent 100 PhD Scholarship Scheme". It is undoubtedly an "olive branch from heaven" for students in difficult dilemmas like me. Moreover, HKBU is an excellent liberal arts university. It has the State Key Laboratory of Environmental and Biological Analysis, and world-class environmental science scholars. Under this learning environment, I can also get in touch with academic frontiers and enhance myself. Therefore, I grabbed this "olive branch" and fortunately became a member of HKBU.
"HKBU’s innovative Project-based Doctoral Research Training allows us to go beyond our own disciplines and be exposed to different scientific thinking, leading to the exploration of cross-disciplinary research."
What do you think about HKBU’s PhD training under
the “Talent 100 Doctoral Programme”? Can you share with us your learning experience and your expectation of this training?
Liehui: HKBU’s innovative Project-based Doctoral Research Training allows me to go beyond my discipline and be exposed to different scientific thinking, leading to the exploration of cross-disciplinary research. In the past semester, I got to know many brilliant people from different disciplines through this scheme, and I also attended many professional lectures of diverse fields including mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, medicine, and art. As the saying goes, life has a limit but knowledge does not. If I am allowed to make some suggestions: I hope that the University could, in this interdisciplinary training, pay more attention to the similarities and differences between the humanities, and social sciences and natural sciences, in order to design a more suitable training model. This will give arts students the opportunities to get in touch with more relatable research methods and cutting-edge lectures.
Wei: The Talent 100 initiative of HKBU aims at strengthening world-class interdisciplinary research, influencing the cogitation of the public and facilitating policy-making. It works to keep connection with society and ensure the continuous contribution to knowledge creation and transfer. The Talent 100 PhD Scholarship Scheme is bound to elevate the overall standard of doctoral students. The programme provides training in different subjects and from different perspectives, which can train students to have well-rounded talents with comprehensive knowledge and background. I also experienced this kind of training model during the learning process. With top scholars from the six interdisciplinary laboratories introducing the research projects in their respective fields, I can carry out project research based on my own interests and background. My research ideas have expanded, which also greatly helped in implementing my research project. I hope that by the end of this training I will be able to acquire knowledge in many fields (such as AI and big data analysis), which will facilitate my own research project with better research outcomes, eventually contributing to society.
Li: To me, the use of chemical and biological methods to study the environment is an experimental science. Complete and relatively reliable research cannot be solely based on books and literature, but hands-on experiments. The idea of the Project-based Doctoral Research Training is perfectly matched with my hopes and I appreciate very much this kind of doctoral training. My expectations are of course to achieve certain research outcomes, to enjoy every moment of the learning process, and feel the joyful moments during every small progress.
"With top scholars from the six interdisciplinary laboratories introducing research projects in their respective fields, I can carry out project research based on my own interests and background. My research ideas have expanded, which also greatly helped in implementing my research project."
What do you think about the six interdisciplinary laboratories of HKBU? How do you find interdisciplinary learning at HKBU?
Jianming: The six interdisciplinary labs are mainly related to computer science, combining many traditional research areas with artificial intelligence. This is a very creative idea. The interdisciplinary training allows me to be exposed to areas which I have not been engaged in before. The research seminars conducted every week enable me to get to know the research activities that the organisers, researchers at the University, are conducting so that I can keep abreast of the latest development in the research community.
Wei: The six interdisciplinary laboratories of HKBU have given me lots of inspiration for my research goals from a multidisciplinary perspective. For example, the lecture on Text Mining given by Dr ZHANG Xinzhi of the School of Communication greatly inspired my research ideas: the first time I realised that techniques in humanities can be applied to researches in the science disciplines. Another example would be the lecture on the background and application of AI technology by Professor GUO Yike. The lecture provided me with the basic ideas design of AI which could also be applied to my research with efficient and effective outcomes. We have learned fundamental skills with extensive literature reviews and involvement in interdisciplinary learning, which have enriched our knowledge network and widened our horizons. This not only inspires us to conduct interdisciplinary research, but also benefits our knowledge and technical backgrounds and future career development.
Li: I can see the potential of all six interdisciplinary laboratories: their research focuses are on academic frontiers, in particular hot topics such as AI, big data and life sciences. Principal Investigators are also the elites of the industries. I believe they will produce very good research outputs. The interdisciplinary training encourages diluting disciplines engaged with in the past, accepting new research areas, and learning through research and practice. All these are the pioneer education models which are still rarely found in China. As a student, it is extremely challenging to jump outside the "comfort zone" and learn new subjects. In addition to the challenge, it is even more stressful as the Talent 100 students of the first cohort are playing an experimental role. However, it is also kind of an interesting experience that others will never have.
What’s the community like at the University?
Liehui: During my studies at HKBU, I have deeply appreciated the enthusiasm and patience of the staff in various departments of the University: the careful coordination of the IIS Supervisory Mentors, the attention given by the University to the Talent 100 students, the tailor-made arrangement of the training model made by my translation teachers, as well as the thoughtful services provided by other administration departments. These have all made me feel the warmth and professionalism of HKBU, specifically regarding student-orientation and whole person education.
Li: Open, tolerant, friendly and progressive. The studying culture of HKBU is liberal and tolerant. From the academic point of view, anything can be discussed here. Teachers are conscientious and willing to offer help to students. Students are very hardworking. I always see students studying quietly in the library or laboratory on holidays. The administrative staff also carry out their duties well.
"The interdisciplinary training encourages diluting disciplines engaged with in the past, accepting new research areas, and learning through research and practice. All these are the pioneer education models which are still rarely found in China."
Did you have any unforgettable experiences when coming to Hong Kong to pursue further studies during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Wei: I think that the home quarantine was the most unforgettable experience for me, and probably the most "profound" experience of every student who came to Hong Kong during the pandemic. I arrived in Hong Kong in mid-October followed by the long home quarantine days. I truly experienced the feeling of "confinement" during the 14-day self-quarantine period in a cramped room. I hope that the pandemic situation in Hong Kong will be under control very soon, and other students who wish to come to Hong Kong for studies need not come across such an experience.
Li: Although Hong Kong has experienced several waves of the pandemic, the University is in a relatively safe condition with the preventive measures against COVID-19 in place. Everyone entering any of the campuses must complete the health declaration and wear a mask. Campus public areas are disinfected frequently by designated staff and hand sanitizer can be found everywhere. These are the joint efforts of all HKBU members who are working very hard on this. I hope that the pandemic in Hong Kong will be over very soon.
What’s your favourite thing about studying at HKBU?
Liehui: What I like the most at HKBU is its academic freedom. There is a relatively independent academic atmosphere between supervisors and students. In addition, the school’s library system is extremely convenient, and it helps me a lot in searching for literature.
Wei: The unique academic atmosphere is one of my favourite things. Take my research group as an example: everybody works quietly on their own research. They are relatively independent but still connected to each other. We can seek immediate help from our senior fellows of relevant fields or other staff members when we encounter problems or difficulties. Such a grounded, reliable and positive academic atmosphere also benefits my personal growth. For questions of other fields or directions, we can also seek prompt advice from corresponding scholars and teachers. These are very helpful for my research.
Li: My favourite thing probably is the food at the catering outlet at the Academic and Administration Building: it is delicious, there are plenty of choices, and it is inexpensive. What is also commendable is the campus accommodation at the Dr. Ng Tor Tai International House that I am staying at. The sanitation work is excellent. Each floor is cleaned and disinfected regularly, and a cleaning staff helps clean the rooms every week. As someone a little bit "obsessive in cleanliness", I am so blessed to return to a clean and tidy room from the laboratory in the evening.
What are your future career/academic goals? How do you think HKBU can help you to achieve them?
Jianming: I hope to be engaged in research work in academia in the future. HKBU provides me with a platform to do research in a certain area through systematic training, which will better prepare myself for my future career as a researcher.
Liehui: Before studying at HKBU, I had 6 years of work experience as a university lecturer. In the future, I wish to devote myself to academic research and continue teaching in a university. The diversified curriculum of HKBU, the strong faculty of the translation department, and the rich lectures will broaden my academic horizons and help my academic development.
Wei: I probably will pursue research and development-related professions in my future career. My research goal is to conduct applied research which can serve the general public and contribute to society within my research field. I think HKBU can offer more opportunities for us to solve problems with social enterprises in practising production or putting daily life into practice, which enables our research to be more practical and service-based. Besides, I think that HKBU, situated in Hong Kong, an international metropolis, can provide us with more opportunities for international exchanges and collaborations. This would allow us to get contacts with top-tier research laboratories and prominent scholars of various industries, and enhance our understanding of the cutting-edge research in our society.
Li: Everyone who studies PhD has a dream of becoming a "PI" (Principal Investigator), and I am no exception. I wish to become an expert in the field of environmental science and be capable in conducting research independently. HKBU has already offered us a great platform with the best supervisors, laboratories, equipment and even funding; the only thing left is our own efforts. I hope that we will achieve what is expected of us.