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PhD Students' Experience

Phd Students' Experience

LE Dinh Xuan Bach
Intake Year: AY2013-14
Job Placement:
Lecturer, University of Melbourne, Australia

I am extremely lucky to be embedded in such an amazingly friendly and professional research environment at SMU. At SMU, I had great opportunities to widen my knowledge and to discuss with amazing colleagues about several different research areas beyond my own research focus during my PhD. SMU also provides great supports for PhD students to develop their future careers, e.g., research exchange with Carnegie Mellon University, etc. Having such great opportunities and supports had significant impact on my career personally and I am very grateful for such generosity that I was given at SMU.

Larry LIN Jun Jie
Intake Year: AY2013-14
Job Placement:
Data Scientist, GRAB Singapore

The PhD in Information Systems programme has provided me with the opportunity to carry out my research, as well as develop my technical expertise, which has prepared me well for my current role as Data Scientist at Grab, Singapore. Through the residency-in-training program, I had the opportunity to collaborate and work with faculty from overseas university (Carnegie Mellon University), which was an enriching and rewarding experience.

Felicia NATALI
Intake Year: AY2013-14
Job Placement:
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

At SCIS, I have the opportunity to develop myself into a much more driven and independent person, generally because I faced so many setbacks and yet I had to keep going. Over time I have learned how to motivate myself and work hard without having too much expectation. The journey is not always pleasant. In research, a lot of times, it is difficult to see clearly what’s in front. What you know is that you just have to keep going and take advantages of opportunity and networks around you to get as much support as you can for your research. Sometimes the support does not only come in the form of knowledge but also in the form of mental support. Talking to your peers makes you realize that you are not alone in your struggle. Overall, the SCIS environment is very friendly and supportive. It always motivates you to keep going.

REN Jing
Intake Year: AY2012-13
Job Placement:
Lecturer, School of Business,
Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore

I am very appreciative to SMU PhD in Information Systems Programme, which trained me from a pure Computer Science student to an interdisciplinary faculty of Business School. Its diversified courses, interdisciplinary cooperation projects, especially the dual supervisor system, provided me a comprehensive perspective for understanding research field, selecting and working on interesting and valuable research topics. The research support and exchange program gave me multiple chances to attend international conferences and also visited CMU. The professional spirits of every professor: diligent, efficient, curious, a good listener and supporter, all helped me to form a correct and positive attitude as a researcher and teacher. I believe that what I gained during my PhD journey will always nourish my future academic career.

DO Ha Loc
Intake Year: AY2012-13
Job Placement:
Algorithm Engineer, Alibaba , P.R.China

I was trained to be a well-rounded researcher under the PhD Programme in Information Systems at SMU. The programme provided not only courses covering fundamental topics in Computer Science such as Information Retrieval, Optimization, etc. but also soft skill improving workshops such as scientific writing, presentation and teaching skills. Besides, I and my friends were required to conduct small empirical research projects (ERP) which guide us to do research steps by steps. Before entering SMU, I was a 'green' undergraduate with little experience in doing research. I gradually picked up my research skills from those ERPs and also from the guidance of my supervisor, as well as other professors in the School of Computing and Information Systems, SMU. They are hardworking, knowledgeable, approachable and always set high expectations on their students.

Intake Year: AY2012-13
Job Placement:
Assistant Professor, Queen's University, Canada

During my period of PhD study at the school of information systems, SMU, I was able to join various type of projects and to collaborate with faculty members within SMU and cross diverse research institutions. These projects cover topics not only related to my major research domain (i.e., Software Engineering), but many others domains, such as data mining, natural language processing, social network analysis, etc. Being exposed to such a wide range of projects provides me opportunities to grow my professional skills as well as soft skills, such as communication skills, presentation skills. The SMU PhD program also offered me a chance to visit top university, i.e., Carnegie Mellon University, to learn from leading researchers in our domain. I appreciate all training process that the SMU PhD program has offered for me. Without the program, I won’t be so confidence and comfortable as a professional researcher.

KOCHHAR Pavneet Singh
Intake Year: AY2012-13
Job Placement:
Data Scientist, Microsoft Research, USA

SMU has strong ties with academia and industry that provided me with opportunities to pursue an exchange programme at Carnegie Mellon University and two internships at Microsoft Research, USA. As an intern at Microsoft, I worked with best in class researchers and got opportunities to interact with distinguished scientists and fellow interns from across the globe. The intellectual cohort of students at SMU from diverse backgrounds makes for a great learning environment. My professors always encouraged me to give my best be it actively participating in classes, working on group projects or publishing in top-tier conferences and journals. Apart from the classes and research, SMU provides numerous opportunities for learning and growth such as advanced scientific writing and presentation training, English lessons and career development workshops to ensure holistic development of students.

A generous support from SMU helped me travel for conferences and present my work to the research community and at the same time learn about different cultures and practices. I represented SMU at the Global Young Scientists Summit and the Royal Society Commonwealth Conference. While excelling in my research, SMU’s open environment also provided me with opportunities to actively participate in co-curricular activities. Together with another PhD student, I was instrumental in starting the SMU PhD Student Life Committee to build a cohesive PhD community through organizing professional and social events such as the first Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. As the President of Sikh society at SMU, I organized cultural immersion tours for international students, participated in inter-faith forums and led a dance team.

Sougata SEN
Intake Year: AY2011-12
Job Placement:
Postdoctoral Scholar, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA

During my PhD at the School of Computing and Information Systems in SMU, I was always given the freedom to choose projects that I wanted to work on. I was also encouraged to suggest and pursue projects that I found interesting. While some of the projects required inter-disciplinary collaboration, others required external collaborations. During my PhD, I have always been encouraged to collaborate with other researchers. I have not only collaborated with researchers from SMU, but also with researchers from other institutes such as University of Hawaii, IBM India Research Labs as well as from Samsung Research America in several projects. In addition to spending 9 months at Carnegie Mellon University as a research scholar, for my summer internships, I have also spent 3 months at IBM India Research Labs and Samsung Research America during the 2nd and 4th year of my PhD candidature respectively. While the collaborations have given me the opportunity to work on interesting projects and topics, working on these diverse projects has helped me in becoming a more systematic and independent researcher.

Intake Year: AY2011-12
Job Placement:
Artificial Intelligence Scientist, Vipshop US Inc, San Jose, California, USA

What I learned in SMU has enabled me to conduct research, manage my life and chase my dream. SCIS tries very hard to help us to be competitive by designing various training programmes, which certainly have a long term positive effect on us. The professors in SCIS are nice and willing to talk to us. I’ve benefited a lot from communicating with both my advisor and many other professors. It’s also very special and attractive that most professors work closely with their students, which can quickly help the students to get on the right track of doing research. The four research clusters SCIS choose to focus on are all important topics with big impact. If you try your best in learning and creating in your research area, you will get paid off very soon!

SU Mon Kywe
Intake Year: AY2011-12
Job Placement:
Assistant Manager, Information Technology, Singapore Airlines, Singapore

I did my undergraduate and post graduate in SMU and those are the best years of my life. I met amazing friends who are talented and driving and mentors who are very supportive and naturing. I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland for a conference, took classes at Carnegie Mellon University and worked in Samsung Research America. I thank every professor, staff member, teammate, classmate and friend from SMU for making me become who I am today.

DU Jiali
Intake Year: AY2012-13
Job Placement:
Data Scientist, Twitter, Singapore

The PhD of Information Systems programme in SMU gives students enough exposure in communicating and cooperating with both internal and external researchers. Moreover, this programme provides a lot of opportunities to improve students across multiple disciplines. During each semester, SMU organises various training seminars to help students learn from professional coaches to improve research writing and presentation skills, teaching skills, English speaking and even the etiquette for dressing and dinning. We benefit a lot from these seminars and training courses.

HOANG Tuan Anh
Intake Year: AY2010-11
Job Placement:
Postdoctoral Researcher, Leibniz University of Hanover, Germany

Going through different states of the PhD program in SMU, I was exposed to various aspects of research. I participated in multiple projects on data analysis and mining. These projects helped me to acquire a solid background in big data analysis, advance working and communication skills, and more importantly, to gain a concrete view of research work. In addition, collaborating in projects with experts of different disciplinary taught me how computational methods may benefit research in other disciplines. All these valuable experiences have gradually developed me to an independent researcher and brought me the confidence to build a career in academic.

Intake Year: AY2010-11
Job Placement:
Research Scientist, TCS Innovation Labs, Bangalore

I often get asked why I chose to do my PhD at SMU. What initially drew me towards this university was the kind of research being done, particularly in the Software & Cyber-Physical Systems research group. I was keen on building systems that had real world applicability and they were doing just that! Having spent 5 years at SMU, I can state that the SCIS PhD programme is structured towards providing the right balance between research and application. Research centres such as LiveLabs, LARC and iCity have active collaborations not only with academia but also with industry. Such collaborations provided me the opportunity to spend a year at Carnegie Mellon University as well as interact with other faculty members and individuals who became instrumental at different stages of my dissertation work.

But it is not just about work. SCIS is a vibrant community where I made several good friendships. I had a wonderful time at SMU and today I’m a proud alumnus.

Intake Year: AY2009-10
Job Placement:
Research Associate, University of Luxemburg

The PhD programme in SMU has given me both knowledge and valuable experience in my life. I have to admit that the programme is tough, but it is really worthwhile! “No pain, no gain!”

Good news! PhD programme in SMU helps us to excel in our PhD life.

In the first year, the programme offers PhD courses (covering multiple research topics) that equip us with knowledge and skills for doing our research.

Furthermore, the professors are expert in their areas and truly care for their students. Their feedback and advices are valuable not only for our research, but also for building our character. I also enjoyed the interaction with other PhD students. They are smart, supportive, and fun! We can discuss, share ideas, and make good friends.

Last but not least, throughout the programme, we also have chances to meet and collaborate with great professors and researchers around the world!

In the last year of the programme, SMU further prepares us to get our dream job such as teaching courses, preparing professional profiles, etc.

I am truly grateful to be able to join PhD programme in SMU!

CHENG Yueqiang
Intake Year: AY2008-09
Job Placement:
Staff Security Scientist, Baidu USA


School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) is a large warm family, and I am pleased and proud to be part of it. There are so many wonderful memories with my family, my supervisor, my classmates and my friends.

PhD programme is a long, arduous and cheerful growth process (trust me). To make it easier, let me share some experiences here:

1. Always follow up the latest research trend in your area. Your research topics will come from there.

2. Be ready to share your research with others. If you can make them understand your work within 2 minutes, you will win a lot.

3. Besides your supervisors, your seniors and peers will help you a lot.

CHUA Chong Tat Freddy
Intake Year: AY2008-09
Job Placement:
Research Scientist, Amobee, San Francisco

I am a SMU PhD in Information Systems graduate specialising in Data Mining. After graduating from NUS in Computer Science, I was very interested in pursuing a PhD at SMU in the School of Computing and Information Systems. I was interested in a research area recommended by Professor Lim Ee Peng, my dissertation advisor for the area of social network mining and applications. At the same time, I was able to remain in Singapore and be close to my parents.

As part of my programme, I went on a 3-month internship from June to September 2012 to Hewlett Packard Research Labs (HPLabs) in Silicon Valley, California. At HPLabs, I was part of the Social Computing Group managed by Bernardo Huberman. I was asked to propose a research project that will benefit the business objectives of HPLabs based on stipulated requirements. I undertook the research project by writing computer programmes and performing experiments to verify the research results. When I presented my findings to HPLabs, they found my results useful and are considering taking the project to the next stage. The company is currently filing a patent for my work. Although the internship was for a short 3 months, I consider the delivery of results in this span of time a great achievement! The internship has indeed helped me gain experience in independent research and will definitely be useful to me in the future.

In my time at HPLabs, I was able to interact with the team of research scientists, although only one of them was my supervisor. The manager-in-charge has asked whether I could return to HPLabs in the future to work on other projects. I will have further discussions on this with the manager after I graduate and consider the proposal over the other options available to me.

There are two reasons why I enjoyed the SMU PhD programme. Firstly, freedom was given in the way I conducted my research, and secondly I was given the time to focus on my research.

I would like to see the impact of my research be translated into real-life solutions.

Intake Year: AY2008-09
Job Placement:
Senior Lecturer, Temasek Polytechnic,

I am a graduate of the PhD in Information Systems programme, specialising in Intelligence Systems. I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. I first heard about the PhD programme from a friend who is a faculty member at SMU. I joined SMU because of what it had to offer in terms of the current research carried out by the School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS).

I enjoyed this programme because you are given the freedom to decide what research you would like to do. Although my dissertation supervisor, Associate Professor Lau Hoong Chuin guided me along the way, it was my responsibility to ensure that I undertake my research effectively. I have also written papers, of which several have been presented at a Learning and Intelligent OptimizatioN Conference and a Combining Constraint Solving with Mining and Learning workshop.

In my 4th year, I had the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant for two undergraduate courses at SCIS, namely ‘Computer as an Analysis Tool’ and ‘Computational Thinking’. As a Teaching Assistant, I was involved in the following ways – (a) attended classes to help with questions raised by students; (b) walked around the class and assisted students during the hands-on sessions; (c) provided consultation during the students’ project work discussions; (d) attended weekly discussions with the faculty in-charge and instructor; and (d) marked papers and projects.

During my teaching assistantships, I learnt that student life in Singapore is different as compared to my undergraduate experience. Students here are more active and critical in their thinking. It was rather interesting for me to see how undergraduates interact amongst themselves.

The experience was also useful to me as it had somewhat helped me with my ongoing research work. In the first course mentioned above, I was not aware of the existence of several functions, which I have begun to use in analysing my research. The second course was a refresher to me as I had forgotten certain algorithms that exist.

I underwent several professional workshops with SMU’s Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE). These programmes have been useful and relevant, and provided me with skills that I could use when I teach in future. I plan to be a lecturer in Singapore. My experience as a Teaching Assistant at SMU has indeed given me a head start.

Last updated on 18 Aug 2021 .