September 12, 2018, by Lisa Chin

LINK’18: Sharing of Experience by the Best PGR Presenter

This post is written by Yen Yee Chong, LINK’18 Best PGR Presenter and PhD student from the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. 

On 26 July 2018, I participated in the LINK’18, a student-led interdisciplinary research conference, held in the Great Hall at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. The work that I presented was titled “Catalytic Pyrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass with Metal Oxides”. With the increasing in demand for crude oil, the exploitation of renewable and alternative fuel resources have been carried out actively by researchers. Bio-oil is one of the potential substitute for traditional crude oil that was produced from the thermochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass. Nevertheless, as compared to traditional crude oil, bio-oil is highly acidic and has a high oxygen content, which would corrode the equipment used and cause instability of the bio-oil. Hence, the aim of my study is to enhance the quality of the bio-oil via catalytic pyrolysis.

I was quite nervous to present at the conference, with the fear of blanking out or being stared at on stage. I think that I have done my best in presenting and was genuinely surprised when my name was called out to receive the prize.

In my opinion, one of the ways to boost one’s confidence in presenting is to throw oneself out there to gain exposure from a variety of presentations if opportunities arise. LINK’18 is indeed a great and enjoyable platform to do so. Not only was it well-organised, it involved postgraduates from other faculties as well. The distinction in the nature of research required different ways of presenting. Therefore, it was interesting to see and listen to other participants’ presentations, and to learn from them. During the conference, I met a participant who truly inspired and encouraged me. She felt that her fluency in English was not great and thus, she had attended English classes for a few years. Besides that, to improve her presentation skills, she attended conferences and presentation skills training whenever she could, even if they required her to travel quite a distance. From our conversation, what struck me the most was that instead of complaining about my weaknesses or to be contented with where I am, I would have to get out of my comfort zone to tackle the problem and that there is always room for improvement.

I personally feel that the trainings on presentation skills provided by the Graduate School are really useful and the trainers are helpful in giving constructive comments. The trainings highlight what presentation skills to take note of, which I was not consciously aware of previously. The skills include style of presentation depending on the audience (e.g expert or general), eye contact with the audience, tone of voice, body posture, hand gesture and so on so forth. One of my weaknesses is that during presentations, I tend to slur my words when I get nervous. In one of the Graduate School trainings, the trainer assisted me in practising to take pauses between sentences, and to take time pronouncing longer words instead of speeding up to get it over with.

I am truly humbled by this experience and would want to thank University of Nottingham Malaysia, Graduate School, and Students’ Association for organising the conference. I would also want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to my supervisors, department, and family for the support. Last but not least, all glory to God in the highest.

[From left] Professor Sivakumar Manickam, Faculty Associate Dean of Research for Engineering, Professor Hoon Kiat Ng, Head of Department for Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, Yen Yee, Dr Suchithra Thangalazhy Gopakumar, Associate Professor at the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering & Professor Suyin Gan, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

Yen Yee Chong was announced as the Best PGR Presenter for her presentation titled “Catalytic Pyrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass with Metal Oxides” at the LINK’18 Conference held on 26 July 2018. Yen Yee’s presentation described research on enhancing the quality of bio-oil via catalytic pyrolysis.

Read more about the LINK’18 Conference.

Read more about the winners of LINK’18 Conference.

Featured image: Yen Yee Chong

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