Chenfei Hu, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tissue Microenvironment Program, TiMe 2020 Cohort 

Where are you working now?

I am currently working for Applied Material at Santa Clara, CA, as an Optical System Engineer. Applied Material is a leading U.S. company that supplies equipment, services, and software for the manufacturing of semiconductor chips.

Are you still in cancer research? 

I am no longer in cancer research, but my previous project was sponsored under the TiME program and Cancer Center at Illinois. Here is a brief description:

With our daily-use microscopes, we can only see fine details of a specimen in a very small area. In other words, there is a tradeoff between image resolution and the field of view. For my research, I was using computational tools to overcome this tradeoff.

How did your experience as a student in the CCIL training program help you achieve your career goals?  

The TiMe program provided a platform to reach out to fellow graduate students and colleagues with very different skillsets. Our monthly meet ups exposed me to different research topics and ideas. Talking to peer members at the CCIL helped me develop instruments that suit the need of biologists.

What do you miss most about UIUC?

I definitely miss my lab-mates and collaborators, who have been a big support for many years. I will also miss the weather and change of color in the fall.

What advice would you give to students in CCIL programs now, or those applying?

Ph.D. training is no doubt a challenging adventure. In the past 5 years, I encountered problems from all aspects (intellectual, mental, personal, and professional), and I know my colleagues encountered similar issues.

Here are my suggestions for fellow students: when going through these difficult times, you can take a short break, get away, and then come back to tackle the problem — because when you overcome these obstacles, what you learned from this process is rewarding and worth it. 

For me, the practical skills I gained are far more important and valuable than any research publication.

— Compiled by the CCIL Communications Team