Practicum Exchange through Materials Science and Engineering
During the Summer holidays, I was lucky enough to participate in a research exchange with the Biomedical Engineering department at National Yang-Ming University (NYMU), Taipei, Taiwan. The students at NYMU were very welcoming and helped us settle in. I shared a dorm with 3 other international students – 2 were research students like me and 1 was an exchange student who attended lectures. I went to NYMU with two other students who are also doing the Materials Science/Biomedical Engineering degree at UNSW.
After the first few days, we began our research projects and saw just how rewarding research life could be. My research project looked at increasing the efficacy of radiotherapy with AuNP@SiO2. I fabricated many batches of gold nanoparticles and coated them in SiO2. Unfortunately, many of the samples were low quality as the nanoparticles became agglomerated. The Master students in my researched group were very experienced in this project and after they fabricated the nanoparticles, they tested their effectiveness in human cancer cells and if the nanoparticles were successful, in animalsrats.
I also worked on synthesising water-soluble derivatives of chitosan and testing their antibacterial properties. I was able to learn many lab and characterisation techniques including: pipetting, dynamic light scattering (DLS), zeta sizer, animal handling, streak-plating bacterial cultures, anti-bacterial tests and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). I really enjoyed working in the laboratory and admire the organisation of my supervisor and the other students at NYMU. My supervisor, Professor Liu, encouraged us to focus on making plans and making realisations via self-management and good communication. This motivated me to work harder and helped me become a better researcher.
The daily walk up the mountain to the research building was very good exercise and the views of Taipei from the top of the mountain were spectacular! Each day, I worked in the lab from 10am until about 6pm, then headed off campus to explore the neighbourhood.
Each week we explored a different part of Taiwan. From letting off lanterns at Shifen to eating street food at Shilin Night Market, we experienced a great amount ofso much of Taiwanese
culture. My favourite place was Tamsui where we visited the little stalls along Old Street for food and souvenirs. There was also a beautiful bridge and we walked along the wharf and admired the sea.
I had a lot of fun times with the lab students and especially liked the Taiwanese tradition of Christmas gift exchange. In my research group, we each bought a present that fit the theme, for a randomly-picked giftee. We opened the gifts at the Christmas party where the students from our lab prepared activities and food for us. They also arranged some games which used English just for us!
I thoroughly enjoyed my exchange at Yang-Ming University – I gained research experience in an international environment, met new people and experienced a new culture and perspective. My experience in Taiwan was unforgettable and I will cherish the memories I made with the students there.