Alumni stories: From a student to a scholar

February 27, 2024

Dr Xidong Guo at Tsinghua University

A problem for countries worldwide is how to ensure their citizens receive adequate healthcare within budget limits. In particular, providing health services to remote populations can be a challenge.

Dr Xidong Guo, an alumnus of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, is researching how to use economics to do just that. As a postdoctoral researcher at China’s Tsinghua University, Dr Guo studies how to use mathematical models to optimise resource allocation and how to analyse data to pinpoint the actual causes of a problem. He applies these questions to grassroots medical systems, in particular.

Dr Guo graduated from XJTLU’s International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) with a BSc Economics in 2016, then received a master’s degree in Economics from Trinity College Dublin, and a PhD degree in Economics from University College Dublin.

In 2023, he began his postdoctoral position at Tsinghua University, which Times Higher Education ranked as the top university in China in its most recent China Ranking.

Dr Guo in Wicklow Mountains, Ireland, during his postgraduate studies

XJTLU inspires

Dr Guo’s passion for economics blossomed early in his undergraduate years. He credits one of his undergraduate instructors at IBSS for opening his eyes to how economics can benefit society.

“If it hadn’t been for Dr Yang Chen’s microeconomics course during my undergraduate years, I wouldn’t have realised that economics could be used as a tool to help solve problems in various fields,” Dr Guo says. “The idea of solving practical problems with economics was truly enlightening, even influencing my decision about the topic of my doctoral research.”

For his Final Year Project (FYP), a key part of an XJTLU undergraduate programme, Dr Guo decided to use economic models to study the winning rates of sports matches. The FYP, equivalent to 300 learning hours, enables students to develop problem-solving and research skills with the guidance of an academic supervisor.

The experience gave him first-hand knowledge of the extensive potential underlying economic research.

“My Final Year Project was my first foray into academic research,” Dr Guo says. “For students just embarking on their research journey, the supervisor’s assistance is crucial as they can navigate you through the entire research process.”

A macroeconomics course in Dr Guo’s undergraduate years also made a lasting impression. Dr Nimesh Salike of IBSS asked students in the course to choose topics and present them in poster sessions.

“Later, I found that this format closely resembles the poster exhibitions at international academic conferences,” Dr Guo says. “After this training, I became more confident when attending international conferences. It’s evident that XJTLU begins nurturing students’ research capabilities early in their undergraduate years.”

International Business School Suzhou

Evolving as a researcher

Worldwide, PhD candidates in economics are typically encouraged to produce a sole-authored “job market paper”. This paper is generally regarded as demonstrating the candidate’s ability to conduct independent research.

The academic journal Health Economics recently published Dr Guo’s job market paper. In the acknowledgments section, Dr Guo thanked the participants of the Conference on Asia and Pacific Economies (CAPE), which XJTLU hosts annually with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).

Dr Guo says that he receives valuable feedback and suggestions from his peers at the conference each year.

“Each paper I submit gets a thorough review from an expert in the field. I reciprocate by reviewing another scholar’s work. Then, we exchange feedback, which significantly aids in enhancing the quality of my papers and making my research findings more convincing,” he says.

Dr Xidong Guo in Dublin, Irland

When he returned to XJTLU for the conference last spring, Dr Guo reconnected with his former instructors, Dr Chen and Dr Salike. Guo says the reunion helped him realise his growth since he was an undergraduate.

“When I was a student, I listened to the lectures from a student’s perspective. Today, as a participant in this conference, I get the opportunity to exchange academic ideas and share my research with my teachers. It’s a profoundly emotional experience for me, and I genuinely feel like I’m evolving,” he explains.

“I aspire to become an exceptional researcher, much like Dr Chen and Dr Salike, in the future.”


By Luyun Shi
Edited by Bo Kou, Tamara Kaup and Xinmin Han
Photos courtesy of Dr Xidong Guo

February 27, 2024


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