What's your name, nationality, current function, and department
My name is Danting Meng and I’m from China. I am now a 2nd-year PhD candidate, working in the Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging.
What is the topic of your PhD project and how does your work look like in practice?
My PhD project is about statistical learning with multisensory information. Statistical learning is the ability to extract regularities from the environment over time. For example, infants are able to segment words from an artificial language containing no cues to word boundaries other than the transitional probabilities. Or we could utilize the traffic lights regularities to predict the next traffic light is green or not and prepare our motor actions to cross the road. What I am interested in is how people learn the regularities with multisensory information.
In practice, it’s like most experimental studies. I do literature review and do experiments on normal humans with neuroimaging methods. In many cases, the participants are undergraduates or postgraduates. After I collect enough data, then I need to analyze them to get exciting results with concise and informative plots. Then publish it if things go well :).
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I dreamed to be a teacher when I was a child, a talented, elegant, patient, and responsible teacher.
What has your career path been so far and how did you come to your current position?
I hoped to be a scientist or university teacher 5 years ago, so it’s necessary for me to obtain a PhD. Then I took part in Postgraduate Admission Test and got my master's degree in 2020. Then I chose a foreign university to pursue my PhD for a broader vision and achieve my study abroad dream, so now I am here!
What aspect of your job is or has been a challenge for you?
The Interdisciplinarity in the neurosciences. Researchers need to study multiple fields such as biology, psychology, statistics, and even engineering. But that‘s also one of its charming and exciting aspects.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
Spend time in nature with friends or family on Saturday. Physically detach from work. Lovely weather could make it perfect in the Netherlands.
Sort out the house, organize the folders on the computer, conduct a weekly review, reflect on the past week, and plan the action for next week. If not, it’s also OK. Anyway, a relaxing and recharging Sunday, nothing must do.
What is the most important advice you want to share with Donders PhD candidates?
Keep positive. Doctoral researchers commonly face many different kinds of obstacles during their doctorate. Problems could always be solved, whether you believe it or not.
PhD is not your Life It is just a part of your life. Just enjoy! Both PhD life and your life.
What do you wish you would have known when you started your PhD project?
Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t be worried if your progress is not so fast, because all PhD programs are different. Everyone’s PhD growth curve is not the same, it's possible that your growth curve is more like an exponential function rather than a power function. Just do it at your own pace and step by step.
What are you looking forward to in life?
Be happy every day! Not every day must be a good day, but there will always be something good about every day.