Xiyong Huang

Xiyong Huang

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering with First Class Honours

Why are children particularly vulnerable to harmful UV exposure from the sun ? That is the interesting topic Xiyong Huang is exploring for his Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical engineering.

“Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers in humans. Due to the high level of UV in New Zealand, skin cancer has always been an important research topic. Research shows that individuals who experience excessive sun exposure during their childhood tend to have a significantly higher chance of developing melanoma in later life.

“My research aims to explain why children are especially vulnerable to sun exposure. I started to investigate the characteristics of human hair and its implications for melanoma in the final year of my Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), and my doctoral research builds on this work. My PhD research could have significant implications for the prevention of skin cancer, including public awareness and improvement of sunscreen.”

Xiyong’ s research is supervised by Dr Mike Protheroe and Professor Ahmed Al-Jumaily from the AUT Institute of Biomedical Technologies (IBTec). His work has already been featured in international journals, and was the editor’s pick for the Journal of the Optical Society of America.

Fostering a postgraduate culture
AUT’s culture fosters a close-knit community where students can develop close relationships with lecturers, says Xiyong who came to AUT as an international student from China and is supported by a Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship.

“AUT is New Zealand’s fastest growing postgraduate study destination. When I was completing my bachelor’s degree at AUT, I realised that doing research at AUT means having easy access to research facilities and expert advice from staff.”

He would highly recommend postgraduate study at AUT to others, Xiyong says.

“AUT provides postgraduate students with a great study space and up-to-date software. There are also various scholarship for both domestic and full-time international students, which can ease the financial burden of study greatly.”

Making connections
His research has benefitted from the connections of his supervisor Professor Ahmed Al-Jumaily, Xiyong says.

“Initiated by Professor Ahmed Al-Jumaily, my research is in collaboration with skin cancer specialist Dr Sharad Paul, who introduced me to his innovative ideas about skin cancer, and Soochow University’s Centre of Nuclear Environmental Chemistry in China.

“For me, the biggest challenge was that my research requires access to some equipment that is not available in New Zealand. Fortunately, AUT’s doctoral research budget enabled me to go on an overseas research trip. For example, I had the opportunity to go on a one-month research visit to Soochow University, which has greatly advanced my knowledge from interacting with other researchers and learning the state-of-the-art projects they are working on in the field.”

He appreciates that AUT gave him the opportunity to travel overseas to support his PhD research.