UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Dzulfikar Furqon

Dzulfikar completed an undergraduate degree at Universitas Indonesia, and an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Queen Mary University of London, before starting his PhD at STEaPP in 2022.

Headshot of PhD student, Dzulfikar Furqon
How did you come to realise you wanted to study for a PhD?

Prior to joining STEaPP, I had a diverse background in research and innovation, having worked as a researcher and research supervisor at Sumbawa University of Technology. Throughout my professional journey, I always harbored a particular fascination for the dynamic intersection of science and public policy. I recognised that a PhD offered an ideal pathway to not only satiate my thirst for knowledge but also to make a meaningful contribution to addressing the most pressing global challenges of our time. Embarking on this PhD journey represents an opportunity to push the boundaries of my own understanding and expertise. A chance to investigate, experiment, and gain an in-depth comprehension of how different knowledge and expertise intersect with public policy, and how this synergy can be harnessed to address the complex issues facing our world.

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at UCL STEaPP?

I chose to undertake a PhD at UCL STEaPP because I recognised a profound alignment between my personal goals and the department's unique mission. STEaPP excels in mobilising a diverse range of scientific, technological, and engineering knowledge in the realm of public policy, making it the ideal place for someone with my interdisciplinary background. Additionally, I was particularly intrigued by STEaPP's remarkable diversity of backgrounds among both the faculty members and students, as well as the wide array of research clusters within the department.  I am hopeful that by being surrounded by such a rich tapestry of expertise, I may have the opportunity to learn and gain new insights that I may not find elsewhere.

What is the focus of your PhD?

Under the supervision of Prof. Julius Mugwagwa and Prof. Smita Srinivas, my research revolves around the complex interaction between Health and Industrial Development, with a specific focus on the evolving landscape in post-pandemic Indonesia. My study delves into different paradigm shifts, historical industrial footprints, and emerging opportunities that have left their imprint on this dynamic nexus. 

In essence, my research seeks to provide a comprehensive grasp of the post-pandemic scenario by unraveling the complexities and linkages between Health and Industrialisation priorities with the primary objective of discerning the pivotal factors influencing this intersection and identifying the potential opportunities that arise from this convergence. In doing so, my work aims to shed light on the path forward for health and industrial development in a post-pandemic world and hopefully bring valuable insights to both academia and the broader public policy discourse.

What has been the highlight of your PhD so far?

The most prominent highlight of my PhD journey has been the remarkable opportunity to engage with an incredibly diverse and international community. Interacting with individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities within the academic setting has been truly enriching. These encounters, whether in the form of formal discussions or informal conversations, have provided me with a wealth of knowledge and perspectives.

Additionally, attending various departmental lectures and engaging in dialogues with fellow students and faculty members has expanded my horizons in ways I couldn't have anticipated. This exchange of ideas and experiences has not only deepened my understanding but has also broadened my perspective, which I consider invaluable in the pursuit of my research and academic growth.

How would you describe the community at STEaPP?

The STEaPP community has pleasantly surprised me with its unique and welcoming atmosphere. What stood out to me was the relatively low emphasis on hierarchy compared to my experiences back in my home country. This has created an environment where I've been able to establish meaningful relationships with colleagues and professors quite effortlessly. There's a sense of openness and inclusivity that has made it comfortable for me to express my thoughts, opinions, and ideas honestly without concerns. This open and collaborative culture fosters a dynamic and supportive community that encourages diverse voices and perspectives, ultimately contributing to a more enriching academic and research experience.

What are the facilities like at STEaPP, and the UCL campus generally?

The facilities at STEaPP and the broader UCL campus have been excellent. We are fortunate to have access to a diverse range of international journals and engaging departmental readings, which greatly enhance our research endeavors. Additionally, the designated spaces provided for us, the PhD candidates, to work on our research have proven to be highly conducive and beneficial.

How have you found the support available at STEaPP, and the wider university?

The support had been great, I feel very grateful and proud to be able to make STEaPP and UCL my 'home' for this research journey. It's a genuine blessing to be part of a community where extraordinary and humble individuals surround me, who are always willing to lend a helping hand whenever you are experiencing difficulties. 

What are your future plans/aspirations?

In the immediate future, I am committed to furthering my career as a researcher, aiming to leverage the knowledge and expertise I've acquired during my time at STEaPP to contribute meaningfully to the field. Pursuing a PhD aligns with my long-term career aspirations within academia. I believe that through this endeavor, I can enhance my level of expertise and contribute meaningfully to the academic community. I plan to continue my support for my local institution, Sumbawa University of Technology, by sharing insights and experiences gained from my academic journey. 

However, my aspirations extend beyond academia. I aspire to take a more proactive role in policy-making in Indonesia, operating at both local and national levels. This stems from the recognition that there is a notable gap in Indonesia in terms of mobilising scientific, technological, and engineering knowledge in the policy-making process. With the specialised expertise, knowledge, and valuable network cultivated at STEaPP, my goal is to offer fresh insights and innovative approaches to address the critical challenges faced by my country. By bridging the gap between knowledge and policy, I hope to contribute significantly to the betterment of Indonesia's societal and developmental issues.

Do you have a mentor/role model who has inspired you?

My most significant mentors and sources of inspiration have been my parents. I am deeply grateful for having been raised by parents who have consistently supported and encouraged me throughout my journey. Their unwavering belief in the value of education and their constant encouragement have been instrumental in my academic and personal development. 

What advice would you give to future PhD students?

First and foremost, I would advise future PhD students to take their time when refining their research. It's common for us, as PhD students, to become fixated on our initial scope and understanding of a subject. However, as we delve deeper into our research, we often discover that our initial perceptions of the context might be inaccurate or incomplete. So, it's crucial to slow down, reflect, and ensure that our understanding accurately captures what is happening in the field.

Furthermore, I would encourage future PhD students to be dynamic in their approach. Don't be afraid to explore different methodologies and perspectives when conducting research. The academic journey is a process of growth and discovery, and being open to new approaches can lead to more innovative and insightful findings. Embrace the opportunity to learn and adapt as you progress in your research.