Xue Wang, a recently graduated Ph.D. student from Media Communications Lab at USC, decides to continue her research work as a postdoctoral associate here with us. She is so happy to study with Professor Kuo and other lab members. Now we have an interview with her, talking about the change of roles between a Ph.D. student and a post-doc researcher and lifelong study plan.

Could you briefly describe yourself and your current research?

My research is an extension of the previous work on the objective evaluation of cataract surgical techniques using image processing and computer vision methods. The state-of-art surgeon evaluation tools primarily require human observers to fill out a grading questionnaire after viewing a video of the procedure, a technique that is subject to observer bias and variability. Therefore, it is hoped that our work could be extremely helpful in developing reliable computational analysis methods that can precisely and automatically identify quantitative and qualitative evaluation for surgical techniques.

Why do you choose to take a post-doc position and what’s your future plan?

I set up my career goal to become a faculty in the university when I started my Ph.D. at USC. I enjoy doing research and communicating with fellow workmates, and working as a post-doc is necessary step in the preparation for becoming faculty. To make this decision, I talked with different professors about the ongoing research work and future plan. Also, I got great help from Jing Zhang, one of our MCLab alumni, who is now pursuing her post-doc at Yale University. I’d apply for faculty position in future and I need to improve myself more. One aspect is about the research; I will enhance my work and try to seize any off-campus presentation opportunity to know more experts in this field to build a ‘social network’. On the other hand, in order to perform professionally in the teaching interventions in university I would also polish my communication and teaching skills. For example, using simple expressions and examples to clearly explain the problem without losing audience’s interesting and attention.

Do you feel any change of roles while transferring from a Ph.D. student to a post-doc associate researcher?

Yes, I think the most important capability in careers for PhD students is to know how to learn. During the study, motivation decides attitude, and attitude decides methodology. As Professor Kuo always said, it is a training/learning process.

As for a post-doc, the role is more like a manager because it requires even more self-management as one has to schedule the pattern of work from a new point of view. For example, a post-doc need to work even more independently and take the lead of the project. Attention should be paid to shape himself/herself to be good at writing grants, and to position oneself for high-quality reference letters. It is also important to know how to work interactively with different people and to become a good member in the department. To become a successful post-doc is challenging, and it’s worth a try.