We are pleased to announce that our undergraduate psychology major, Lam Wing Mun, has been awarded an Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize (OURP) for AY2011/2012, for his honours thesis work with Dr. Stephen Lim. The OURP was first launched in 2006/2007 as an annual university-wide competition to encourage research and to recognize the best undergraduate researchers in NUS. Besides having won the OURP, Wing Mun’s work clinched the Best Paper Certificate at the 2012 International Conference on Psychological Sciences and Behaviours earlier this month. Well done and congratulations, Wing Mun! Here, Wing Mun describes his research experience below.
– Stephen Lim
Having been exposed to cognitive psychology through a number of undergraduate modules I have taken, I decided to try my hands on experimental cognitive psychology for my Honours thesis research, and came under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Lim. My thesis was entitled “Illusory Objects Produce Substitution Masking Effects”. The main objective of this research was to show that illusory objects can function similarly to physical objects (i.e., objects that are tangible to our eyes, have definitive lines and edges, etc.), via the use of the Object Substitution Masking paradigm.
My research experience has been fulfilling and enriching, although coupled with occasional hiccups along the way. There were definitely times when the going got tough! Reviewing the existing literature and deriving a viable research topic and question were the most tedious and discouraging part of my research, but I learnt that this was an important phase because the goal of any research, as my supervisor would always emphasize to me, is to ultimately discover scientific truths and push the frontiers of science forward. The next obstacle came from the actual conducting of experiments where I was always confronted with the problem of limited public labs for data collection, but this all the more made me treasure every single opportunity I could grab hold of to collect data and it helped to know that my supervisor was with me during these frustrating times. Hassles and misery aside, to me, it was most interesting to have met my juniors and their various personalities which kept me afloat the otherwise drowning levels of stress and pressure from constantly having to monitor the progress of my experiments. It was in no way less interesting to be SMS-ing or calling my supervisor every night as well, and I would be telling him how 800 milliseconds still failed that morning and he would be saying “don’t worry, press on, we are very near the truth already, let’s try both 1000 and 1200 milliseconds tomorrow morning.” Those were awesome memories.
When the thesis was finally completed and hard-bound, I imagined streaks of tears as if a reminder to how much we have gone through to make this possible. The success of this research would not be possible without the prudent guidance and encouragement from Dr. Stephen Lim. He always provided valuable comments and suggestions throughout the project, from firming the research question to finalizing the written report. If asked what I think the true meaning of undertaking an Honours thesis is, I would definitely say that it is the opportunity to conduct scientific research on a topic discovered and chosen by my own volition. And Dr. Lim has most definitely provided me such an opportunity. Despite being truly talented and an expert, he never once forced his ideas on me. Rather, he believed that I must produce a question I can call my own and will be proud of, and guided me closely to eventually arrive at that question. I am truly grateful for that, and for how Dr. Lim transformed my outlook of research completely through the process. It was a life-changing experience that I never would forget even after I graduated.