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Gan Wen Cong: An IMU Scholar’s Journey from FIS to PhD

13 Apr 2022

Scholarships are usually awarded to only the most meritorious candidates of an institution. Hence, they are often coveted awards by students. This is especially true of the scholarship for the programmes in IMU, where only a handful of students have the honour of calling themselves an IMU Scholar. One student in IMU achieved what may be enviable to many peers. Gan Wen Cong is a recent graduate from IMU’s Medical Biotechnology undergraduate programme. He had initially received a bursary for his studies in IMU’s Foundation in Science programme for excellence in his SPM results. Subsequently, he was also awarded a full scholarship for his Bachelor’s degree and graduated with a first-class honours. This allowed Wen Cong an opportunity to pursue a fast-track PhD degree in IMU where he once again managed to snag another full tuition waiver by IMU’s Institute for Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI). “I never stopped striving to achieve my dream of becoming a scientist.” said Wen Cong. “I am extremely grateful that I was able to secure all these scholarships that obviously reduces the financial burdens of pursuing an education.” IMU Scholars are required to be involved in various campus-related operations, ranging from training activities to organising events, and are expected to uphold IMU’s high standards in both curriculum and extra-curriculum.

“It was initially quite daunting when I was faced with these challenges, academic or otherwise. But I quickly found that being a part of IMU’s scholarship programme provided me with a platform to gain tonnes of exposure and personal development. This made me appreciate the scholarship even more as it is so much more than just a form of financial aid.” Wen Cong shared regarding his scholarship experience during his undergraduate studies.

Having spent several years in IMU for both his foundation and undergraduate studies, as well as being a part of various projects, Wen Cong developed a close bond toward IMU. “I think the most memorable experience for me was when I represented Medical Biotechnology as a speaker in the Inter-Professional Forum. Being given the opportunity to speak and present in front of a large audience helped me develop a sense of confidence essential for my journey thus far.” He also expressed his gratitude toward his lecturers from both Foundation in Science and Medical Biotechnology. “They have shaped me, taught and advised me into who I am today. Some of them even took extra measures to ensure their lessons are both informative and entertaining. Most importantly, I had learned how to think critically like a scientist.”

When asked how he feels about undertaking a PhD programme straight after graduating from a Bachelor’s degree, Wen Cong commented, “The stresses, workload and pressure are all abundant, that is to be expected. I feel like nobody can truly be prepared for the challenges faced during a PhD, but I am confident that I can overcome anything that comes my way.” He added, “At the same time I also feel that all the laboratory skills and techniques, hardworking mindset and the perseverance that was instilled into me during my previous studies really aided me in facing this steep learning curve I am currently facing. Especially during my final year in Medical Biotechnology when I had the chance to publish my first journal article and conduct my final year research project, which really prepared me well thus far.”

Wen Cong is currently investigating the Ecotoxicological Joint Effects of Nanoplastic and Herbicide Atrazine on Microalgae as his PhD research project supervised by Dr Wong Chiew Yen. His work will involve screening for biomarker responses of microalgae as well as transcriptomic methods to determine gene responses toward the two pollutants. Read more about Wen Cong and the publication of his first journal article: IMU Medical Biotechnology Students Published Review Article on Plant-Based Vaccines for Coronavirus Disease.

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