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How does it feel like to work in a new research environment? - Testimony from Ye Peng, HKUPRP fellow

Learn more about Ye Peng's experience as a research intern at Institut Pasteur in Paris! Ye Peng is year-3 PhD candidate at the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, School of Public Health, LKS Faculty of Medicine. He is a laureate of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Fellowship 2021 and has just completed an internship at the Biological Image Analysis Laboratory under the supervision of Dr Elisabeth Labruyère.

Why did you want to apply for HKU-Pasteur Research Pole Fellowship?

First of all, I would like to have support from this fellowship to learn new technologies and to test my hypotheses in a collaborative project. Besides, my past and current studies are related to microbiology and immunology, both founded by Louis Pasteur. Visiting Institute Pasteur is one of my dreams. I also personally share the mission "to help prevent and treat diseases" with Institut Pasteur International Network. So I would like to have more connections in the network outside of HKUPRP. Furthermore, France is among the top countries home to Nobel prize laureates. I would like to take the opportunity to learn there to reshape part of my thinking and working style towards a successful career.

According to you, what is one of the most important thing you have learnt?

The most important thing I have learned is to make a plan ahead. In my research over the past few years, I usually started data analysis with a rough idea in mind, then did ad hoc adjustments or did literature research for methodologies to test hypotheses generated. However, in experimental science, it would be wise to have a detailed plan with all information you need to conduct and replicate an experiment. You may allow some time to discuss with the PI/teammates about its feasibility and to prepare step-by-step protocol(s). If applicable, you should also book a timeslot for shared facilities per the plan, perhaps one or two weeks in advance. Thus, it is important to have a plan in a timely manner.

Will you recommend this research internship at the Institut Pasteur to your colleagues/other students?

Definitely. I believe Institut Pasteur is the right place to do the training you need. People are experienced and readily helpful. There are regular seminars, Ph.D. thesis defences, conferences, and also talks given by invited scientists from other institutes/universities. So there are a lot of opportunities to learn from and to interact with researchers. Plus, you would have some leisure time to tour around Paris. Why not give it a try?

How can this research internship contribute to your professional training?

In terms of thinking and skills, I learned to make a plan ahead and to familiarize myself with what I am going to do, to allow myself not to think during experiments. I learned human cell culture, Intestinal Chip preparation, and live imaging data acquisition and analysis. I also did myself a refresher training on bacterial culture. Equally, if not more, important is that during my learning, I received help from and also shared my findings and knowledge with members from several units. I believe this exchange of knowledge would serve as a good start of connections with these excellent researchers.

What are your plans for the near future?

My short-term plan is to wrap up my Ph.D. thesis and to start the next chapter of my life as a postdoctoral researcher. As I enjoyed my stay and learned quite a lot at the Institut Pasteur, and I was welcomed to be there again, I may seek support to be a visiting researcher at the Institut Pasteur during my postdoctoral training.


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