Earlier this month, postgraduate students from different schools of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University came together at the 2020 XJTLU Postgraduate Research Symposium, organised by XJTLU Graduate School.

The event was attended by over 150 postgraduate students, along with PhD supervisors and academic staff from XJTLU and other institutions. More than 60 PhD students gave research presentations in English and more than 80 research posters were on display.

Professor Zhoulin Ruan, Academic Director of XJTLU Graduate School says: "This is the first time such a large research symposium for postgraduates has taken place at the University. It has been a very meaningful experience for everyone involved."

At the symposium, Year Two PhD students showcased their research in the poster presentation, while Year Three PhD students delivered oral presentations. Students who are about to graduate or have submitted their dissertations were responsible for chairing the sessions, while Year One PhD students and masters students were invited to participate or engage as volunteers.

Enakshi Ketaki Sivasudhan, a Year One PhD student in Biological Sciences, says: "This was the first time I chaired a symposium and I learned so much within the span of a day."

Attila Tamas Szenasi (pictured below), a Year Two PhD student in Biological Sciences says: "I particularly enjoyed learning about the research topics of my fellow PhD students from the mathematics, business, chemistry and biology departments. It was a rewarding experience being in this multidisciplinary environment; the brainstorming and Q and A sessions were especially fascinating."

Sivasudhan concurs: "When you are specialising in a particular field, you tend to focus solely on that area of research. So it's good to get a fresh perspective from someone who is, say, from a completely different department. At the symposium, I saw a biological sciences PhD student getting constructive feedback from a staff member from the mathematics department. I think such interactions are important for PhD students to develop as independent researchers capable of defending their work."

Prateek Kumar Singh, a Year Two PhD student in Civil Engineering, says: "The event gave me a chance to understand what people around me are doing, which I can adapt and apply to my own research."

Szenasi says: "As a researcher, I represent this University and I must be able to accurately communicate my work. This event was an excellent opportunity to practice all that and I believe this would benefit me when attending future conferences."

Professor Ruan (pictured below) says: "The involvement and passion of PhD students about their research projects, the diversity of research topics and research fields, and the high quality demonstrated by the overall symposium as an international academic conference has truly impressed me."

The dinner party following the symposium provided the students with an opportunity to interact in a more informal setting. Danxue Zhou, a Year One postgraduate student from the Department of China Studies, says: "It was an icebreaker event that enabled us to expand our academic circles and meet new friends."

Professor Ruan hopes that through the annual symposium, participating students can unite as part of the postgraduate students’ community and develop a sense of belonging.

"Our vision is that in the future, the Postgraduate Research Symposium will become an influential platform for academic exchange and a signature event of the University," he concludes.

By Luyun Shi, Ke Tang and Yuxin Dong
Translated by Ke Tang
Edited by Patricia Pieterse

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