Life Outside the Lab

Photo of Rachel Tan doing woodworking

Finding the balance between work and life outside the lab can be challenging for some, but it is important for maintaining good mental health. Speaking to one of our research officers, Rachel Tan, we learn how she makes time for the things that she enjoys outside of work.

Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?

A: A typical day includes designing and developing prototypes (constructing optical systems, 3D printing, electronics), analysing data, planning and conducting experiments and drinking a lot of tea.

Q: What are some of your interests outside of work?

A:  I enjoy soccer, longboarding, woodworking and cuesports.
Physical activity is a great way to destress
stool made by rachel
A stool constructed by Rachel from recycled wood pallets
chopping board made by rachel
A chopping board constructed by Rachel with compartments for condiments

Q: Do you have any advice for researchers on how they can make time for the things that they love outside of work?

A: We tend to waste more time than we think, so there is a need to be aware and intentional with how we spend our time in general. That being said, time management can prove to be tough when there are other urgent priorities in life.

Q: What keeps you motivated in your career?

A: Being able to explore new techniques, to design and develop new devices and to see them to fruition. Also, having as much fun and sun outside of work and lab is important to me.

Q: What are some of your most notable achievements?

A: Bringing a geriatric device together from scratch, from concept to engineering development to clinical study. This device is a bed-integrated monitoring tool which aims to improve the nurses’ productivity and quality of patient care in geriatric wards and nursing homes.

Q: What research projects are you currently working on?

A: I am currently developing a real-time intra-operative optical coherence tomography-based (OCT) imaging platform for thorough cancer resections. This includes the design and development of minimally invasive sub-surface endoscopes and novel scanning techniques. One possible application would be instant biopsies being performed during a surgery through non-invasive imaging of tissue samples.

Q: What were some challenges you face in the lab?

A: Focusing on one research direction due to time or resource constraints, when new discoveries present many new directions.

Q: Do you have any advice for those looking to pursue a career in scientific research?

A: Be open to failure and uncertainty. It would also be good to have a basic knowledge of coding to automate data collection and analysis.

If you would like to explore a career with IBB, you can view the available positions at A*STAR’s Career Portal.