Some people seek a postgraduate degree because they are passionate about academic research, while others do so because it has evolved to be seen as a “required standard” in most industrial sectors. Given that research has gained greater importance recently, particularly in the industry’s research and development sector, I consider myself to be in the latter category.
My parents have always told me, “Life is just the beginning, and it will get tougher and tougher as you grow older.” I never took their words for granted, and I am eternally grateful to them for providing me with an education up to the degree level. Ever since I was in Semester 2 during my BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree at IMU, I have always wanted to pursue further studies to a postgraduate degree.
However, at the time, I was still uncertain on which postgraduate degree will be the right fit for me. That is, until with a fateful conversation during my final semester with my current supervisor, Prof Mallikarjuna Rao Pichika. He was also seeking a graduate research assistant at the time, to which I happily obliged and become part of the team, in addition to being a postgraduate student at IMU.
Throughout the three years of my postgraduate studies, I finally had the opportunity to experience hands-on practical application of what I have learnt during my undergraduate days. Some great examples include high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC) and gel electrophoresis, just to name a few. In addition, I had also managed to apply the fundamentals that I have learnt from the various modules while pursuing my Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree at IMU, which includes Pharmaceutical Analysis, Medicinal Chemistry and Synthetic Organic Chemistry.
It is always very fascinating when you get to learn how far research investigations and analytical methods have advanced throughout decades of technological advances. In addition, I have wonderful team members who is and were part of the team that are extremely helpful, and I am always eternally grateful for them; huge kudos to Mak Kit Kay, Puvaneswari Marappan, Zhang Shiming and Pang Jia Chern.
Unfortunately, a life in research is no bed of roses, and requires a lot of sacrifices. One such unfortunate timing was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Malaysia, and all laboratories and services were forced to shut down from March 2020 onwards in concordance to the Movement Control Order (MCO). It was extremely tough for everyone, including myself, especially it was also when I was officially registered as a postgraduate student. Many activities, including meetings with my team and conferences, were required to be held remotely, which severely hampered my experience.
Fortunately, the conferences that I have attended were all memorable and fruitful. During the peak of the pandemic, I attended the International Student Congress Of (bio)Medical Sciences (ISCOMS) organised by University of Groningen, Netherlands. Even though the conference was held virtually, I had the feeling that I was physically present and it was a unique experience.
In addition, I have also presented in two International Postgraduate Conference on Pharmaceutical Sciences (iPoPS) conferences, organised by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) (2021) and International Medical University (IMU) (2022).
At these conferences, I gained a lot of knowledge from listening to many presentations from around the globe and developed many international relationships.
Throughout my postgraduate experience, there were its ups and downs. I will always be grateful for the guidance and support I received from all of my favorite IMU professors, and I will persevere on my path with tenacity and resolve.
I am pleased to be able to use the information and expertise I obtained from IMU into my research endeavor.Although the postgraduate trip has not been simple, I am thankful to have had the chance to experience it, and all the information I have learnt along the way has in fact enhanced my life experience.
I am currently a MSc student in my final year, and I’m now awaiting my viva voce. A final advice to all future undergraduate students: This is not the end, this is where it truly begins. Cheers, and all the very best!
Written by Low Jun Sheng, PC116