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These NTU students are shaping our post-pandemic future

Photo Caption: Ms Nurin Nazurah Saifudin (above left), Mr Ryan Soh (middle) and Ms Nithya Krishnan (above right) represent the different scholarship programmes offered by Nanyang Technological University

By August Carlos

Devastating and disruptive as it may be, the Covid-19 pandemic has also served as a catalyst for people to ponder on what life would be like in the new normal.

For these Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scholarship holders, it has made them even more determined to step up and make a difference in an increasingly uncertain world.

Ms Nurin Nazurah Saifudin, 21, a scholar under the NTU-University Scholars Programme, says the pandemic solidified her goal to pursue a career in public service.

At the start of the circuit breaker last year, she volunteered at Aware (Association of Women for Action and Research), a non-profit organisation that provides support services for women. She helped to conduct research interviews for a programme that reaches out to women who have been adversely affected by the pandemic in one way or another.

“While I am still unsure which domain I want to serve in, I know that my career has to be one that is oriented towards making a difference and helping society. I want to uplift and help as many women as possible, since I am in a privileged position to do so,” says the third-year student majoring in social sciences (public policy and global affairs).


Eye on research

For Mr Ryan Soh, 25, the pandemic has made him appreciate his field of study more.

Mr Soh, who is under the CN Yang Scholars Programme, is a fourth-year student majoring in biological sciences in NTU.

He chose the course because of his interest in plants and animals. It is also an area of study that has become especially relevant, given the current worldwide attention on disease research. This prompted Mr Soh to explore the field of microbiology. 

He says: “The study of microbiology enabled me to better understand diseases and how they work, while equipping me with the skills useful in healthcare- and medicine-related fields.”

He hopes to come up with simpler explanations for pandemic-related matters and to communicate them effectively to the community, to help counter misinformation about diseases.


AI in the new normal

Ms Nithya Krishnan has also found added relevance to her field of study – artificial intelligence (AI).

The 22-year-old has developed a keen interest in data, which is important in AI technology, since she started paying attention to the accuracy of her social media feed recommendations. 

“That’s when I realised that our daily routine, personal hobbies and unique personalities contain a multitude of data that can be used to derive useful insights,” says Ms Krishnan, a scholarship recipient under the Renaissance Engineering Programme who specialises in computer science at NTU.

She sees AI playing a key role in the new normal, as more firms are tapping the technology to deliver cutting-edge solutions, especially in healthcare.

“Our new normal is moving to the virtual realm. The predictive power of AI is able to bring convenience to our daily lives, from a simple predictive text feature on our phones to predicting if you have a serious illness,” she says.

“Data science and AI are relatively new paradigms of thought that are evolving rapidly. It is interesting to learn about them and use them to ideate – with the smartest minds around.”

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