My Research Program in Hong Kong

Hello again!

In case you have not read my last post, I shall introduce myself again: my name is Sarah and I am a biology major and psychology minor. I’m going into my fourth year this fall and this summer I’m studying abroad in Hong Kong! My study abroad is unique because I am not taking any classes — instead I’m doing research through the Undergraduate Summer Research Program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Academically, I may get published, I’m learning how to write a scientific journal and I’m learning about a completely new topic.”

This is not the typical research of doing wet laboratory work; Instead, I read a lot of papers. I read a lot of papers because I’m hoping to write a scoping review of economic evaluations and cost-effectiveness of incontinence-associated dermatitis.

A scoping review is basically just a review and analysis of many scientific papers on a certain topic. It is scoping because it usually does not address specific questions and is more abroad in terms of searching, unlike a systematic review.

Economic evaluations and cost-effectiveness simply put are “what kind of solution works best,” either in terms of money (cost-benefit) or quality of life, etc. Finally, incontinence-associated dermatitis is skin damage due to exposure to urine and stool. It is characterized by erythema and edema of the surface of the skin and it can be accompanied by bullae, erosion or secondary cutaneous infection.

For my research, I’m creating a poster presentation and writing a report by the end of the program.

So what’s my week like? Every day I read, read and do more reading. I try to either do all my work in the morning or in the evening so I have a good chunk of my day to go out and explore. What I’m able to do depends on how far I’ve read or if I need to do more research. A day could go from me waking up in the morning, eating breakfast at the canteen (a food court, kind of), getting ready and heading to the library or a cafe and then I may search for papers, work on the poster, or read a bunch of journals.

Normally I can only do one scientific paper a day because I have to understand it fully in order to analyze it. Then I’ll either summarize the paper the day of or the next day if I would like to read it again. Finally, I go home, get ready again and go out and explore Hong Kong.

The work is not always enjoyable but it is manageable — haha! One negative is that the program is a little disorganized. Students here either have a ton of work to do or no work whatsoever because their professor has not assigned them anything.

That said, there is still a variety of different research to choose from and I still think I’m benefiting a lot. Academically, I may get published, I’m learning how to write a scientific journal and I’m learning about a completely new topic. Additionally, I’m learning so much about myself as I’ve become more independent and more open day by day.

Overall, I think the program is a good opportunity to set foot in the research world with a chance to get published or just learn new things. The opportunity is there — you just have to work a little hard for it.

Sarah Shamasha is a third-year biology major and psychology minor. She is studying this summer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for eight weeks.

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