Student experience: Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Summer Institute.

ANU Student Oliver Johnson
Wednesday 8 November 2017

Fourth year Bachelor of Engineering (Research and Development) and Bachelor of Science student Oliver Johnson shares insights from the 9 week Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Summer Institute. 

The Harvard-MIT HST program was the most rewarding activity I have participated in at university. The opportunity to work in a lab at Harvard is one which I will always cherish. I think that the HST is quite special in that most programs like this in the U.S are limited to U.S. citizens, so in an Australian context, this program quite notable.

This program contributed to a better ANU experience for me because it allowed me to apply the skills I had learnt in my ANU engineering degree to some cutting-edge research. I think it was valuable for me to experience the different research culture in the United States.

The scale of the biomedical optics research occurring at the Wellman Centre in Boston is unlike anything in Australia, so I really valued the opportunity to be part of this environment.

The program has enabled me to gain a greater understanding of what working as a researcher in the field of biomedical optics would mean for a future career. Academically, I benefited vastly from the HST program. I learnt many skills from my research project, such fabrication, optics and mathematical modelling, but for me the more significant aspect was learning how these highly successful labs approach problems.

There was also a great amount of support for the student interns – I was able to speak to my supervisor every day, so I felt I was continually making progress. The culture of the lab was also very collegial and interdisciplinary, so I was able to gain help from many other people in the lab who had more experience in specific areas. The lecture series featured many prominent academics from the Wellman Centre, and I now feel I have an excellent understanding of the principle areas of research in the field of biomedical optics, which will prove useful for deciding what topics I would might like to pursue in my future career.

Living on campus at an MIT dorm, and being so close to Boston city, the Charles River, the hospital and my lab was wonderful. I also enjoyed connecting with the other summer students, and I definitely made many lasting friendships and future professional connections.

I really believe that the HST program is the best international experience which ANU has to offer. There aren’t many other programs that combine the intense research, lecture series and networking to such a high calibre, in an innovate American city like Boston.

Also, many of the other summer programs at ANU (e.g. the IARU Global Summer Program) do not offer many engineering or science courses, so I think the HST program has an important place at ANU.

A few years ago, I remember seeing this program being advertised on the CECS website, before I had decided to come to ANU. I think knowing that ANU offered this program may have influenced my decision to study to ANU.

I am very grateful to have been selected for the HST this year, and I am sure the experience will help me to shape my future career in ways which weren’t possible before.

​Oliver Johnson.


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