Hi, my name is Sin Yee. I am a third year Bioinformatics major in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). Currently I am working on research of application of machine learning (computer science) to classify Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
There is a memorable story leading me to choose Autism as my research domain. In January, together with my other students’ representative council comrades, we went to special training centre for disabled people in Anggerik, Kuala Rompin (https://news.utm.my/ms/2019/01/mpp-utm-santuni-pdk-rompin-ceriakan-19-pelatih/). At there, I played with several children with special conditions such as down syndrome, autism, etc. There is one little girl named as “En-En” who is born with autism spectrum disorder. She was very scare when we first enter the centre and she keep running around and hide herself in the corner. After almost half day communicate with her (she does not reply to me tho, but I keep on talking to her), finally En-En gave me some response! I never forget the moment she lies on my back. That is the moment I feel En-En, is not that she does not want to respond to us, but autism made her hard to express herself.
As part of my Bioinformatics degree, there is a one-semester long internship (1st of September, 2019 to 18th of January, 2020), and we can apply to any companies or research institutions to do our internships. I took the courage to send my application to several research institutions which are well known with strong research experience in Bioinformatics, including University of Cambridge, Oxford University, and TsingHua University etc. I applied to those top universities not because I expected to get in, but because I was living out my life motto "Never be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try." I did not want to wonder "what if" but instead apply, be rejected, and tell myself at least I tried.
But the miracle happens - I got accepted to do my research internship at University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Prof John Suckling (https://www.neuroscience.cam.ac.uk/directory/profile.php?js369) from Department of Psychiatry! Prof John's researches applied machine learning to study about autism spectrum disorder which is same as my research interest! With this opportunity, I hope to learn more about application of machine learning for autism spectrum disorder from Prof John and other domain experts in Autism so that I can help more children like En En. However, there is an obstacle in the way – the cost of attending Cambridge.
The total budget of this research internship in Cambridge costs around RM27,000 (or £ 5,000) including flight tickets, accommodation, and meals. This budget excluded what has been sponsored by Cambridge for research program fee, Visa, lab etc. Other than that, due to budget cut down from government, my home university UTM has also reduce the financial aids provided for research exchange program, it has been reduced from RM10,000 (monthly allowance of RM2,000) to only one-shot payment of RM2,000. The reality is that the sum of my personal and parental savings is not nearly enough to cover these expenses. However, in order to secure my U.K. student visa to attend Cambridge, I need to provide evidence of at least £ 5,000 by 15th August 2019. I was almost going to turn down my offer, but I was reminded that if I don’t put myself out there and ask for help, I won’t know what will happen.
Our Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs (Prof Durrishah) once said to me: “Always remember what we do is to contribute to the society. Push yourself to achieve more and never forget the reason you are doing so.”, any support that I receive from this fundraising campaign will also be used to pay it forward by dedicating 5% to The National Autism Society of Malaysia and the another 5% will go to Pusat Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti (PDK) Anggerik, Kuala Rompin to refurbish their centre.
If you are able to please support me in any way (financially or help me to share this campaign), I would really appreciate it. Thank you so much for your generous support!