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Rebecca Sumalini Chakram, Doctoral student at the Centre for Applied Vision Research, describes her experience of The Global Young Scientists Summit, 2022

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Organised by the National Research Foundation of Singapore, The 10th Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS) 2022 was held virtually this year from 17-21 January 2022, with the theme of ‘Advancing Science, Creating Technologies for a Better World’.

Eight hundred participants from across the globe took part in the event, with the summit providing a unique opportunity for young researchers to closely interact with world-renowned experts from different fields of science.

Eligible researchers arere nominated by their universities to participate in the annual summit and subsequently undergo a competitive selection process lead by the GYSS committee.

This year’s GYSS witnessed plenary lectures, panel discussions and small group discussions facilitated by 21 speakers consisting of recipients of the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Millennium Technology Prize, IEEE Medal of Honour and Turing Award.

The summit covered a range of topics from the fields of medicine, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering. Other interesting features of the summit included presentations by a select group of young researchers, networking sessions with fellow peers and participation in a video challenge.

Rebecca Sumalini Chakram, Consultant Optometrist LVPEI and doctoral student at City, University of London

Rebecca Sumalini Chakram is consultant optometrist at the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) and a doctoral student on joint programme delivered by the School of Health & Psychological Sciences at City, University of London and the Brien Holden Institute of Vision Sciences, LVPEI.

She was nominated to participate in GYSS-2022 by the School of Health & Psychological Sciences at City, University of London, and shares some of her reflections about the summit below:

The GYSS is an incredible opportunity for young researchers to learn, share and interact with world renowned scientists and fellow peers from various parts of the world. The plenary lectures and panel discussions covered a range of interesting topics such as recent developments in neurodegenerative disorders, how curiosity driven research resulted in the Nobel prize in medicine and preparing for the next pandemic, to highlight a few.

One of the most subscribed segments of the summit involved the opportunity to take part in small group discussions consisting of 20 selected participants each with an expert of the participants’ choice. Commenting on the experience, Rebecca said:

“I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to interact with Prof. Thomas Sudhof, who was Nobel Laureate in Physiology in 2013. It was a truly humbling and rewarding experience to hear from such an eminent scientist. Replying to my question on how one remains motivated as a researcher when our efforts may not be yielding immediate results, he emphasized the importance of sticking to what we love pursuing and to take tiny steps to reach the bigger goal.”

She also commented on the ‘Life of a researcher and career options’ session she took part in:

“I enjoyed interacting with my fellow researchers from different parts of the world in this networking session. It was nice to give a brief overview about my research and learn about the fantastic work that is being pursued by fellow peers in different fields across the globe.”

Another special segment at the summit was the opportunity for participants to showcase their science story, outlining what inspired them to pursue their research in a two-minute video. A total of ninety videos were submitted as part of the contest, and Rebecca’s video, ‘Vision Beyond Vision: my journey into the world of special needs’ won the People’s Choice Award, which can be viewed on the NRF Singapore YouTube channel. On the award win, Rebecca said:

“The thought process took me down memory lane and helped me make a simple yet meaningful video to help individuals from other fields understand my research journey to date. I was delighted to learn that the award gives me the opportunity to participate in GYSS-2023 in-person in Singapore in January 2023.”

Rebecca also reflected on the influence of her tutors and supporting organisations:

“I am very grateful to City, University of London for nominating me to represent the University in this summit. I also acknowledge my PhD supervisors, Dr. Ahalya Subramanian and Dr. Miriam Conway from City; Dr. Prem Nandhini Satgunam from L V Prasad Eye Institute and Dr. Lokesh Lingappa from Rainbow Children’s hospitals, India, who continue to play a highly significant role in making my doctoral research impactful and contribute to the field of special needs vision care.

“The establishment of the Special Needs Vision Clinic at L V Prasad Eye Institute in 2018 has allowed the initiation of several clinically oriented studies in an under researched field, and given me the opportunity to undertake my PhD in this area. I would like to thank the clinic’s donors RenewSys India Pvt Ltd and Mission for Vision, India for their financial support, and am greatly indebted to the management of L V Prasad Eye Institute for realizing the need for a dedicated clinic for children with special needs and for all the support in furthering the special needs research.”

She concluded her reflections on the summit with her key take home message:

“I will always remember a powerful message that Prof. Didier Queloz, Nobel Laureate in Physics-2019 shared during his talk at GYSS-2022 'Creativity of the researcher only depends on the limits she/he imposes on him/herself'. This is the message that I would like to take forward to think beyond and to set bigger and higher goals in my journey as a clinician researcher.”

Find out more

Visit the GYSS website

Visit the Department of Optometry and Visual Sciences at City, University of London webpage.

Visit the L V Prasad Eye Institute website