UCL News


Seven Questions with... Tao Bi

12 June 2020

This week we meet Tao Bi, who is a PhD student in Human-Computer Interaction and a past winner of the #loveUCL Instagram competition. Here, Tao chats to us about contributing to the UCL Time Capsule and his favourite viewpoints in London.

Tao Bi

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I’m currently doing a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction at UCL Interaction Centre that belongs to both the Department of Computer Science and Division of Psychology and Language Science. My research is about designing smart technology that caters for affective and cognitive elements of running experience.

Three reasons have led me to this research direction. First, I have strong interests in sports and physical activity, both of which I think are essential for our health and mental wellbeing. More importantly, the meaning of a physical and psychological human is something I naturally think about a lot in my everyday life. And, last but not least, I have always been passionate about understanding how computer science and intelligent technology could be designed in a better way to support and enhance our life. In the future, I would like to continue to conduct research and would also love to see some of positive, real-life outcomes that my research would have on existing technologies or at least a small group of people’s lives. 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

The most interesting activity I've done is contributing to the UCL Time Capsule. The objects, along with notes from current UCL students, have been collected and buried, and will be uncovered in 100 years time (2119). I’m so proud to have been a part of UCL during my life. I definitely would recommend my grandchildren to come back to UCL and check my notes one day in the next century. 

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

One of my favourite hidden spots at UCL is the eighth floor of the Roberts Building. It offers a great view of the whole campus, embellished by the beautiful Euston Church. You can also see the City of London and the famous landmark from there – the Shard, from the distance. A great place to rest your eyes and brain!

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

London is an amazingly beautiful city. I would like to recommend three free but extremely incredible places to see the sunset and sunrise over the city skyline. 

  1. Sunrise from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath – a mixed view of nature and the city line from the north side of London.
  2. Sunset from One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park – the best panoramic view of London at sunset   
  3. Sunrise from Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park – another perfect view of the city skyline and the sunrise.

If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

UCL is a famous multidisciplinary university with a great range of subjects. If I were the Provost for the day, I would make the lectures and academic resources of all subjects available online to every student so that they can have free access to explore the knowledge from any department. 

Who inspires you and why?

Thinking about my life in the past and at present, I feel that I have been inspired by a mixed group of eastern philosophers including but not limited to Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius, etc. The shared mutualism and the remained difference among them have taught me to be open and to be embracing of things of diverse nature. Humanness, love, kindness, modesty, respect, justice, honesty, morality, knowledge, balance and harmony, nature, self-reflection, etc. are the elements that guide my thoughts and behaviours. 

Another person who positively changed me to a great extent is Dr Michael Mosley who introduced the Intermittent Fasting to my life. With his inspiration, I've begun to be more aware of my lifestyle and have received some great physical and mental benefits after a carefully planned practice of a healthier dieting routine.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Many people don’t know that I used to be overweight. I weigh 50 pounds less than my highest weight. I often find myself in a dilemma when thinking about whether to share pictures of my past self.