UCL Careers


Alumni Testimonial: Kylie Yeung

Meet UCL alumni Kylie Yeung who discusses her time at UCL and is now studying towards a DPhil at the University of Oxford, working on developing data acquisition & image post-processing methods.

A portrait image of UCL BEAMS alumni Kylie Yeung.

9 January 2023

Degree programme: BSc Natural Sciences (Medical Physics and Policy, Communication and Ethics) and MRes Connected Electronic & Photonic Systems 
Graduation Year: 2021 & 2022

Introducing Kylie:

During 2018-2021, I completed my BSc in Natural Sciences (Medical Physics and Policy, Communication and Ethics) and this was the time when I developed my interest in Medical Imaging. In the 2021-2022 academic year, I completed my MRes under the Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems Centre for Doctoral Training, which was jointly run by UCL and the University of Cambridge. I had to opportunity to complete a research project in the UCL Biomedical Ultrasound Group and a research project in the Bohndiek Lab at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

Since October 2022, I have begun a DPhil (i.e. PhD) at the University of Oxford, working on developing data acquisition and image post-processing methods for hyperpolarized MRI.

What did you do outside of your studies?  

I was a part of the UCL Chinese Society in my first year, and I took part in the annual variety show as a dancer as well as the Nottingham Games as a cheerleader. I was also involved with the UCL Film and TV Society and was the Workshop Producer during my second year. Throughout my time at UCL, I was also part of the Christian Union and was the Publicity (Social Media) Officer during my third year.

Did you make use of the services/events UCL Careers offer during your time here?

I did! I attended various workshops that covered topics such as CV skills and PhD applications. I found these sessions to be very informative, which I really appreciated as an undergraduate student with little knowledge about the mechanisms of PhD applications. What I also found extremely helpful was the one-to-one short guidance appointment I attended, where I received personalized feedback from a Careers Consultant.

What does your career path look like? What motivated you to pursue this line of work? 

As an aspiring researcher, I was very fortunate to have access to the breadth of resources available at UCL. My professors throughout my studies really inspired and encouraged me to pursue research, and I am forever grateful for the guidance they have given me which led me to complete a masters and to secure a PhD place. It was mainly through them, and through many internet search sessions, that I found different research opportunities that interested me. These allowed me to develop the skills and gain the exposure that would empower me during my research career. The greatest challenge I have faced so far was finding funding for my PhD, especially since I am an international student. Of the several scholarships that I applied to; I was only offered one. I would say that I got to where I am today thanks to the help that I have received from those around me and by actively seeking opportunities myself. 

Have you been able to apply any of the skills and knowledge you gained from your degree to your role? If not, how did you go about developing these skills?

Yes. As my current research is in Medical Physics, the knowledge that I have gained from my undergraduate degree is directly applicable. I was slightly surprised that even all the abstract mathematics and quantum physics from my undergraduate courses have practical applications in my current research. The research skills that I have developed during my time at UCL have also been invaluable.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your career so far?

It is important to talk to people. I initially found it daunting to reach out to professors/ researchers to ask about their research, but I soon learned that almost all of them are extremely nice and are very happy to give their time to chat with students. I found this to be one of the best ways to discover available opportunities, and to gain insight into what research is like.

What does a normal day look like for you?

On some working days, I am in the PhD students’ office reading research papers and processing imaging data. As my project also involves gathering data from patients, I am sometimes in the hospital MRI scanning room, collaborating with radiologists/radiographers to conduct studies.

What is the most enjoyable part of your work? Equally, what is the most challenging part of your work?

The most enjoyable part of my work is being part of several amazing teams. Being at the intersection of engineering and medicine, I have the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and see the practical applications of technology in hospitals. I find it very exciting that my research has the potential to make a positive difference in patients’ lives.

The most challenging part of being a (new) PhD student is definitely feeling like I don’t know anything. In my workplace, I am surrounded by so many experienced and knowledgeable people, and it is easy to feel like I barely know anything. But I find it reassuring that my research group has a culture of learning from each other’s area of expertise, so I feel encouraged to continue asking questions and learning from those around me.

What are currently the most topical issues that you see happening in your field of research?

I am involved with a very interesting study on long-Covid patients. The technology I am working on, hyperpolarized Xenon MRI, allows us to see lung abnormalities in long-covid patients for which CT scans and other lung function tests are normal.

What advice would you give to students and recent graduates who are looking to move into research?

Speak to professors! I would suggest going on the internet to search for labs that are doing research that you are interested in. Read up on their research and email the researcher in charge, mentioning something specific about their research that interests you. Whether they are professors from your own university or from other universities, many of them would be happy to have a discussion with you. They may also have research opportunities that are not publicly advertised. If you cannot reach the researcher in charge, it is also worth reaching out to other people or students in the lab as they may be able to help you.

Interested in a Career in Research? Look out for our Careers Essentials events. We also have our one-to-one short guidance appointments where you can receive personalised feedback to help you explore different options to help you on your journey to a PhD.