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Curiosity in human behaviour leads Huiyan Liu (MSc’23 ) to a PhD

Posted by Sonya Jampolsky on January 9, 2024 in Alumni & Friends, News

Tell me a bit about your education before coming to the Faculty of Management for a Master of Science in Business program.

I did my undergrad in China at Central South University in the Business School, majoring in MIS (Information Studies). I also attended a summer school at UBC, during which I applied to be part of a MITACS partnership. But then COVID happened and the program was cancelled. I still really wanted to have research experience, so the engineering professor at Dalhousie, who I was supposed to work with, agreed to keep going. He bought me the software for the data mining work he wanted me to do, and we did it all online.

How did you choose Dalhousie and the Faculty of Management?

I decided to only apply to Canadian schools. At first, I thought I wanted research-based programs but during my undergrad I spent a lot of time reading psychology and philosophy. I am curious about human beings, how they work. And because of the really great experience with the engineering professor from Dalhousie and the recommendation letter he wrote for my master’s programs application, I ended up in Halifax.

What was it like when you arrived in Halifax?

I think I spent the first 14 days in quarantine because it was during the pandemic. But Halifax was really an ideal first place for me as a newcomer; I could gradually adapt myself to this city. It felt really supportive. Not just people from school but everyone likes to go around smiling and greeting strangers, and that's really great.   

What did you research during your MScB program?

At first, I didn't know what topic I was interested in. But I had lots of fundamental questions about human beings such as how we take advantage of differences between each other, like gender and ethnicity. I talked with a lot of faculty and they said my interests seemed to be all about diversity. So, I thought, diversity, equity and inclusion is a field I might contribute to. And I took Dr. Dana’s [Kabatt-Farr] course on observational behaviour then read a lot about gender differences. It was interesting to me, so I started to focus my research on gender differences in video conferencing and text chat.

What stands out to you about your program?

My supervisor, Dr. Paola [Gonzalez], is an inspiring person. She's open. When I talk about my ideas, I don't need to worry whether it is stupid; she just gives me feedback that I need. She’s supported me to find my research topic in the field where I can make a contribution.   

What are you doing now?

I’m at UBC doing a PhD and I’m still collaborating with people from Dalhousie. Vancouver is much more like China, and I miss the peacefulness and the work-life balance in Halifax.