During semester break, most students would take the opportunity to rest, relax and maybe recover from their incurred stresses from their previous End-of-Semester Exams. However, for some driven students, this may not be the case at all. In their own free time, under the supervision of A/Prof Anna Ling Pick Kiong, three final year students from IMU Medical Biotechnology programme (MB118), Asqwin Uthaya Kumar, Kirthikah Kadiresen and Gan Wen Cong, successfully published a review article entitled “Current Updates and research on plant-based vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019” in a Tier 1 public health journal ‘Clinical and Experimental Vaccine Research’ that has an impact factor of 3.63 (2019) (Link to the article: https://ecevr.org/DOIx.php?id=10.7774/cevr.2021.10.1.13).
Their review highlights the recent efforts by various companies and researchers to utilise plants as a large-scale manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines. However, as shown in the article, the race for mass production of plant-based vaccines is not so straight forward, as there are various methods employed and a plethora of obstacles to overcome in order to achieve their desired goals. The students had conducted a deep dive into the topic to be able to showcase a clear and concise flow of information.
Asqwin stated his gratitude to his fellow colleagues and supervisor, “It was a great experience writing the review article. Every component of our team was integral towards the completion of the paper, and I am thankful for Dr Anna’s guidance”. He expressed, “Publishing a review in a reputable journal is a goal for many students, and it is still unbelievable for me that we achieved it. This makes me motivated for future contribution to the research community”.
Getting a publication under her name has also lit a spark for Kirthikah, as “seeing the paper published gave a feeling of accomplishment and thirst for more”. She also added, “Writing the paper provided the opportunity to gain more knowledge on the topic and further develop writing skills as well as teamwork to achieve a common goal”.
Gan, who agreed with his fellow co-authors, commented that, “We really got to apply what we learnt throughout our time in this programme. We had to think on our own and critically analyse the available information. Dr Anna also gave us a chance to be fully independent on this project, it shows the amount of trust placed onto us, and I am glad that we were able to reciprocate that into concrete results”.