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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Interview With A PhD Student

Last week I interviewed a scientist to learn about his secret to daily happiness. This week, I am delighted to present an interview with a fellow graduate student - Mr. Jonathan Loh.

Jonathan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biology. He has been a PhD student at the Genome Institute of Singapore ever since.

I've known Jonathan for more than three years now, and I've always been impressed by his diligence and humility. He works so hard that the only opportunity to meet up with him is at night, and in the lab.

And of course that's where this conversation took place.

Jonathan had just loaded his samples into a centrifuge, so we had a few minutes to talk at the pantry while the machine ran.

Me: Legend has it that you often work in the lab until after midnight, and take showers in the lab washroom. Is this true?

Jonathan: Yes, I used to do that. I used to work until 3-4 am in the morning. Now my routine is to work until just before midnight. I think this is important for the long run, like a marathon. I don't believe in short sprints. Just look at my hair now. *points to head*

Me: Your hair is not turning as white as mine!

Jonathan: Your hair is turning more white, but my hair is turning more bald! *laughs* Actually I still shower in the lab, because I like to use the hand dryer in the washroom to dry my hair.

Me: What do you like most about doing research?

Jonathan: I like the long hours of work. I believe that the more the sweat, the greater the satisfaction. I prefer to work hard to get the things that I want at the end of the day.

Me: What do you hate most about doing research?

Jonathan: Unreasonable bosses who want to get something out of nothing. I think that a good boss should provide ideas and help educate, help to guide the students. I also dislike conflicts of interest that may occur. These will dampen the spirit of research, and everyone ends up guarding their own turf. Your stage is the world, not just the local setting.

Me: What is your favourite dance club? Your favourite drink?

Jonathan: My favourite club used to be Moods at Orchard Road, just opposite Far East Plaza. Now I frequent Devil's Bar at Orchard Parade Hotel. They have a mature crowd there. I usually drink beer, just beer. The other drinks, I cannot hold too well.

Me: What do you do to unwind when you are stressed out by research?

Jonathan: I go jogging. For about 6 kilometres.

Me: 6 km! That would kill me!

Jonathan: *laughs* Just a leisurely walk-a-jog.

Me: What is your comfort food?

Jonathan: Fruits. Especially orange. And coffee as well. I like my coffee very black without sugar. If I must drink instant coffee, I will drink it without stirring so that all the sugar stays at the bottom.

Me: Do you have any advice for other students on how to reduce stress and improve endurance?

Jonathan: Science is international. Science is not just local. You need to work together with others, to help each other and to form collaborations.

Me: Do you talk science with your girlfriend?

Jonathan: No. Only personal things.

Me: Okay, one last question - what is the most mysterious thing in the world?

Jonathan: Life. The existence of life. I mean here they are, and you don't even know why. This is one of the reasons why I do science.

Me: Thanks Jonathan! I have taken too much of your time.

Jonathan: No problem. Now it's my turn to ask you some questions!*laughs*

3 Comments:

ah said...

Fuck, taking it easy is 'Now my routine is to work until just before midnight' !!!!! Damn!

Oh dear, science is seriously tough...

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