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Viva Voce

Dare to Dream

2016 Rhodes Scholar Serena Dai talks about her equal passion for scientific research and voluntary work.

<em>(Photo by ISO staff)</em>

Serena Yichen Dai
Final Year Student of the Molecular Biotechnology Programme of the School of Life Sciences
2016 Rhodes Scholar

Congratulations on becoming Rhodes Scholar 2016. Is there anyone you wish to thank at CUHK?

I’d like to thank Prof. Jimmy Yu, Head of United College, who encouraged me to apply for the Scholarship and introduced me to Dr. Timothy Cheng, CUHK alumni and 2010 Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Cheng shared with me lots of interview tips regardless of his busy schedule as a physician. Last but not least, I’d also like to thank my four referees.

Can you tell us about your experience studying in the US, China and Hong Kong?

I spent my elementary school years in New York, where I was trained to read the newspaper almost every day and express my opinions on social issues. Then, I went to Beijing for secondary school. I was so behind in maths that my teacher had to give me extra lessons after class. For my Bachelor’s degree, I applied for CUHK because I like the humanistic culture here, as well as its academic excellence.

You are very active in voluntary activities. Is scientific research very different from voluntary work?

They are actually very similar, as both of them require good communication skills and team spirit. Scientists nowadays are required to work closely with one another, even with experts from a different field, in order to share research findings and draw larger conclusions. Voluntary services can be more challenging as I have teammates with different backgrounds, serving people from all over the world. The diversity fascinates me and makes everything fun.

As an emerging female scientist, do you think women have equal opportunities as their male counterparts nowadays?

The chance for education is becoming relatively equal in Chinese societies. However, I have heard a few comments on successful female scientists who ‘spend too much time at the laboratories and neglecting their husbands and children’. I hope that in the future, family responsibilities can be equally shared among its members and the society would recognize and support all deserving scientists regardless of their gender, as they have worked so hard to make this world a better place.

This article was originally published in No. 472, Newsletter in Feb 2016.

students Serena Yichen Dai Rhodes Scholar Rhodes Scholarship Molecular Biotechnology School of Life Sciences Faculty of Science