Q&A with a Mitacs student

The Mitacs Globalink Research Internship scheme is a UK-Canada mobility programme for undergraduates to develop their research expertise. The competitive programme co-funds undergraduates from partner countries to complete an intensive 12-week summer research internship, in a variety of academic disciplines, under the supervision of a professor at one of 70 participating Canadian universities.

We took the chance to speak with Nichole, who participated in the programme in the academic year 2022-2023. She even managed to get an offer for a PhD with her former MITACS supervisor!

Read on to find out all about Nichole’s experience in Canada:

Name: Ho Yiu Nichole Cheung (“Nichole”)

UoM Degree programme: MEng Materials Science and Engineering

Canadian institution: University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Project title: A study on the effects of using supercritical fluids treatment on the mechanical and thermal of PP/GF/GnPs composites

Why did you choose to apply to the Mitacs scheme?

After spending one and a half years of my UG during COVID-19, I really wanted some work experience, and I came across this opportunity at the perfect timing. I have also been very keen on travelling to different parts of the world and I thought to myself, “This is the perfect opportunity to meet new people and network across the globe!”, so I applied to the MITACS Globalink Internship during my 3rd year of studies at UoM. I also just wanted to see if I would enjoy a career in academia, or more specifically, academia in North America.

What interested you about the project you were selected for?

I have always been interested in nanocomposites so I was very excited to see this opportunity on the list of projects offered. In lectures we’ve always explored the strengthening mechanisms of nanocomposites with one reinforcement, but I haven’t really learned in detail the mechanisms of a hybrid nanocomposite, so this really intrigued me.

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

For me I really enjoyed meeting new people – and there are many ways you can do so. MITACS grouped interns in the same cities into groups of around 10 and allocated each group a mentor studying in the same city, and I have made some long-life friends from my group! I also really liked how friendly everyone was in Toronto – they are not lying when they say Canadians are nice. The research group was very helpful and friendly and everyone was free to express their opinions without any hierarchy, and I find that really helped me in being more critical in research.

What do you feel you have gained, both academically and personally, from the experience?

I have definitely gained a lot of insights in the academia environment and  my research skills have definitely improved a lot. This also helped me make up for the lab hours I lost during the pandemic and gave me more confidence in both the lab and in my research. Personally, I have also made friends from multicultural backgrounds and I am really grateful that I have made friends I am still in touch with. I now even have the confidence to just walk up and make new friends!

How has the internship affected your future plans?

After completing the internship, it made me realise that I do want to pursue a career in academia, and I have actually accepted an offer for a PhD with my former MITACS supervisor! I am very excited to see some familiar faces and continue my research on composites. In addition to the funding from UofT, I am also awarded the MITACS Globalink Graduate Fellowship as a past MITACS Globalink intern.

Any advice for students considering applying for Mitacs for Summer 2024?

The application process might seem long but it is 100% worth it! I am sure you will secure the project of you dreams and have one of the best summers of your lifetime as long as you keep an open mind on exploring

Thank you to Nichole for speaking with us! For more information and how to apply for the academic year 2023-2024 go to: http://www.goabroad.manchester.ac.uk/external-opportunities/themitacsglobalinkresearchinternship/

Deadline to express your interest is 12pm 24th of July 2023. Full instructions on our website

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