toh ming chun

Toh Ming Chun (1)
Q: Share something about yourself.

Hi, I am Ming Chun from the National University of Singapore (NUS) - High School of Math and Science. My research attachment with A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) was from Jun to Dec 2018 to further explore my interests in physics, particularly in the field of electromagnetism (although I ultimately decided to work on a different project albeit with a similar vibe).

Even though the attachment lasted till Dec 2018, I continued working on the project at a casual pace and ultimately published the research work in a scientific journal#. Throughout the process, my interest in electromagnetism grew deeper and I decided to work on another project with my research mentor – Dr Khoo Eng Huat, Senior Scientist at Electronics and Photonics Department until now. 

Q: Tell us about what you do at IHPC?

“Simply put, I run simulations, extract and analyse the results, rinse and repeat.” However, there was much more to each and every process. There were several intricacies to consider: how to better model reality without compromising the simulation speed, the exact results to collect and how to do it efficiently, all while working best to stay within the limits of the computer hardware. Some key highlights during my attachments were: (i) writing a research paper and undergoing the entire process of finally getting it published; (ii) obtaining results of simulations that were run using high performance computing, which would otherwise have instantly filled up the entire storage of my laptop; and (iii) attending an international conference.

Q: What/Who is your inspiration in life?

The unknown inspires me. I love the sensation of discovering something new, rather than learning it. Despite the wealth of knowledge available readily to us, there is an infinite sea of undiscovered information - that inspires me.

Toh Ming Chun (2)
My research attachment presentation

Q: Describe a typical work week.

There was a great degree of freedom. Firstly, I could select the area(s) I wanted to work on. In fact, I switched the focus of my project multiple times as new, interesting perspectives and results emerged along the way. Secondly, because it was a project on simulations, I was able to work on the simulations at home, run them through the night and gather the results in the day. This gave me plenty of time and flexibility to be able to work on the project at any time. Every week, I would meet with my research mentor Dr Khoo to discuss the analysis of the results and what to improve and work on. Although I am now serving NS, I can still work with Dr Khoo due to this flexibility. He would help to run the simulations and share the results with me, after which I would analyse the data and discuss my findings with him.

Q: How has this internship benefits you?

It was an experience that encompassed many parts of scientific research, giving me a good glimpse of what a career in this field would represent. I was given the flexibility to explore my interests, and this allowed me to discover everything for myself, which is truly what research is about, rather than working on a "structured" project, which are often alike solving a problem where you are handed the tools to work with. Dr Khoo also guided me by steering me in the right direction, but not assist me directly, which allowed me to better experience the process of discovery and research.

I was privileged to attend the 10th International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies (ICMAT 2019) which was an incredible experience. It gave me the chance to be exposed to many ingenious ideas that were presented. I also experienced the process of writing a research paper, which really showed me a completely different side of research. I had to focus on things that were often overlooked, but that were what really made the difference: content summary and presentation, language used, and especially how data was processed and presented, down to the colours used to label it. Through this, I picked up many technical skills along the way with the many software used, as well as soft skills, throughout the enriching journey.