I got to know NGS scholarship by accident, after I had sent out innumerable applications to graduate schools in the United States. I was immediately attracted by its adequate financial support, strong supervisory teams and novel concepts of integrative research the first time I visited NGS website. I rejected several offers from US and came to Singapore.
Life was not as easy as I expected when I first arrived at Singapore. Without family and friends, I suffered from psychological loneliness and severe home sickness. I had to face the language problem and adapt to the hot and humid weather. Thank goodness, I gradually overcame these difficulties and made more friends. I am glad to say I have nurtured life-long friendships with many of my labmates and those from the same NGS cohort.
Doing a PhD was admittedly painstaking, especially for the students studying biology. But thanks to NGS, each step on my way was well arranged and guided. My thesis advisory members met up with me every month, analyzed/critiqued my results and provided me with suggestions. My supervisor, Prof Ding Jeak Ling, was always ready to help me with any questions in my research.
I majored in Bio-engineering for my undergraduate programme but I changed to Immunology during my PhD. They seemed to be two unrelated fields initially. However, the “integrative” thrust of NGS programme enabled close collaboration between my lab in Immunology with that in Engineering. This certainly broadened our research approaches, making our study more advanced and unique.
I published my first tier-one paper in my third year; I managed to publish 6 papers in total over my entire PhD candidature. Particularly, the education allowances NGS provided enabled me to acquire more in-depth knowledge in various areas through attending three international conferences during my PhD. All these NGS benefits groomed me to be a real scientist with the ability to instruct students, think critically, do systematic research, write papers and connect with scientists around the world.
After graduating from NGS, I came to United States to pursue a Postdoc in Michigan State University. Thanks to my good training during my PhD, I can ease into my new projects readily and train new undergrads and master students. I do know that any achievements during my PhD years do not guarantee me a successful future. However, the excellent graduate education that I received in NGS will definitely be a key contribution to success.