Kia ora! Greetings from Dunedin, New Zealand. My name is Haw Tatt Yhew (Randy Haw) and I am an IMU alumnus from the Biomedical Science (BM110) cohort. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was stepping foot into the IMU building for my very first day of university life. Fast forward 6 years, I am currently doing my PhD at University of Otago, New Zealand. Boy it has been some journey with many ups and downs. It is part of life’s journey where we all have to weather through the storm before finally seeing the sun shine again. I look back with pride for how far I have come and how much I have accomplished. Ever since my high school days, I have had a strong interest towards Science and Biology. Hence, it has played a major role in helping me select Biomedical Science as my undergraduate course and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do it at the IMU. Regardless of the kind of criticism people have said, I believe that there is no university that we can truly say is “perfect”. That is why, I believe that it is up to each individual to adapt and surpass their own limits. I strongly believe that IMU has given me a solid platform and put that springboard in place for the years ahead of me. The knowledge and hands-on experience in which I was provided in IMU was very much a blessing in helping me to adapt to the research world during my postgraduate era. Through its modules, projects and reports, it has trained me to pick up skills in the laboratory much faster. Hence, I was able to complete my research work for my Masters within an estimated duration of one and a half years, which gave me ample time to perfect my thesis write-up. In addition to that, I was able to get a publication as well from my research project titled “A Three-dimensional culture model of Lipopolysaccharide-activated Microglia” in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. It was because of this publication and the unique set of laboratory skills (3D cell culture and handling of animals) I have gained that placed me in a strong position to pursue my PhD. On top of that, IMU has had a hand in my journey to New Zealand. I have kept in touch with my lecturers in IMU by dropping by occasionally. Dr Lim Chooi Ling recommended me several people in which I could get in touch with for PhD positions and through one of those people, I was recommended to my current supervisor, Dr Matloob Husain from the Department of Microbiology. I was successful in my scholarship application (University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship) where my tuition fees would be taken care of and I would be paid a monthly stipend for the duration of my PhD research. My peers have always told me that they can’t imagine themselves working in the lab day and night as they won’t have their own leisure time but I beg to defer. During my postgraduate studies, I have found time to learn the “Art of Eight Limbs” or Muay Thai, and also managed to participate in the tournament. I ended up winning the competition. On top of that, I even managed to hit the gym 4 times a week and developedf my cooking skills. Thus, I would say it’s all down to time management and not making excuses. In my early days in IMU, I struggled to cope with the workload and pressure of expectations. I did at one time question myself if I had made the right decision to be here. However, I was very lucky.
During these hard times I had my mentors to thank for being there for me and providing me with support. Hence, I would like to reserve a special thank you to Dr Kang Yew Beng, Dr Lim Chooi Ling and Mrs Phoong. For without your guidance, I dare say I won’t be where I am today.
I am currently still in my early stages of my PhD journey and life in New Zealand. Day by day I am slowly adapting to my surroundings and learning the laboratory setup. I will be working primarily on the Influenza A virus with a mouse model. These are exciting times for me and I am very enthusiastic about getting my project started.
IMU will always have a special place in my heart. Words just aren’t enough to describe how much IMU has given to me. The ups. The downs. Academically. Personally. All of which I could write in chapters of a book but I believe that’s enough for now. Although… Fear not! This won’t be the last that IMU hears from me. I will be back “home” to visit! Haere rā!
This article is written by Haw Tatt Yhew (Randy Haw).
Related article : IMU Biomedical Science Alumnus’ Journey to Postgraduate Studies