Flying  Free  at  HKUST

After resolving to continue her studies during her time at HKUST as a summer camp participant and a visiting intern, Akriti was accepted into the Bioengineering Program of the School of Engineering to pursue a PhD in Bioengineering. An awardee of the prestigious Hong Kong PhD Fellowship, her research focuses on an interface between biology and engineering, specifically neuroscience and aerial robotics. By studying the flight control in agile insects like moths, Akriti’s research is attempting to understand the neural control involved in their movement and eventually use this information to increase the manoeuvrability of drones.

Akriti Chadda
PhD in Bioengineering

Choosing HKUST

It was the combination of two key factors that motivated Akriti to select HKUST. First was the peace of mind and financial stability offered by the generous scholarship she had been awarded, which has removed the daily stress of meeting tuition fees and living expenses.

The most important factor was her positive relationship with her prospective thesis supervisor Professor I-Ming Hsing. After meeting him while Akriti was studying here in the summer of 2015, she determinedly made the choice to study at HKUST under his able supervision and guidance. This confidence has paid dividends, as his trust and confidence in her abilities have been a constant source of inspiration, motivation and support throughout.

“I don’t think I could have asked for a better university to support my research goals, or a better thesis supervisor to guide me through my PhD.”

Nature, Neuroscience and Robotics

Using the natural world as a model and fusing the methodology of seemingly unrelated fields, Akriti is working on the cutting-edge of scientific research.

“I would say that the field of bio-inspired robotics is an extremely hot topic at the moment. There’s so much support available in the research industry and it being so interdisciplinary, it helps you to specialize in any of the various different domains.”

Beyond the animal kingdom, Akriti was inspired to pursue the integration of neuroscience and engineering by community work she had undertaken whilst studying as an undergraduate in India.

“My interest in neuroscience started during my final year of study when I worked extensively with paraplegic patients to understand their problems and devise solutions for them.”

The varied nature of her research that results from this fusion is aided by the breadth of work conducted in the many departments of HKUST, each one full of experienced specialists excited to be part of new and innovative projects.

Work-Life Balance

Still working on getting the mix right, Akriti has grown significantly as a result of her time at HKUST. Outside of developing her research skills and knowledge base, her studies have been instrumental in helping her improve both her personal and professional life.

“One of the most wonderful things about working towards a PhD degree is that it helps you to learn a lot of life skills, one of the most important ones being organization.”

In particular she has learned how to manage the heavy workload of research, teaching duties and credit completion by coming up with organizational strategies.

“Prioritizing tasks and activities meant for the day by organizing my to-do lists work like a charm! I sit and spend some time first thing in the morning penning down both my personal and professional goals for the day, and try to check them off one by one.”

International Opportunities

As with many PhD students at HKUST, Akriti has the opportunity to experience research at world-class institutions around the world.

“The most interesting thing I have been a part of is my research attachment with University of Washington in Seattle. I got to visit the United States and perform my research activity in a world-renowned lab under a very able co-supervisor and it thrilled me!”

The capacity to form international connections and experience scientific work in a variety of settings is vital to the development of any young researcher.

What Next? 

Still very much in the thick of her PhD work, Akriti is using her time at HKUST as a platform to launch a fully-fledged research career. As a talented researcher working within a unique and cutting-edge niche, she has a fascinating array of opportunities available to her to further sharpen her skills, make fruitful connections and work out her career aspirations.

“I am still exploring my options given I have started my PhD only recently. But what I know for sure is that I want to be in research and development, and working on quantitative analysis. I love discovering new things and playing with numbers, and so I am going to hone my skills in big data and machine learning over the next couple of semesters at HKUST and see where that takes me!”

More about PG Visiting Internship Scheme

PG Visiting Internship Scheme allows students currently studying outside Hong Kong to do research study at HKUST for a short period of time. Besides gaining valuable research experience in a new environment, students can also enjoy a rewarding cultural exchange experience in Hong Kong.

Click here to learn more!