July 29, 2015 | Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Student Stories, Summer 2013

Susan-TsangSingapore / Indonesia

A study abroad program can invigorate and inspire those who were uncertain about what they want to do by providing them an experience where they must learn to be independent and apply what they have learned in the classroom. Being in Indonesia, I was able to better understand them as people and how I can help them achieve their goals, making our working relationship much stronger. This allowed me to establish my future research program in Indonesia, which will be invaluable going forward in academia.

Ms. Tsang, who is on track to complete a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2014, [spent] the next two semesters in Indonesia studying the genetic diversity of flying foxes, a group of large fruit bats, with the goal of helping develop a conservation plan for the endangered creature.  Her research in Indonesia was funded by a Fulbright scholarship.

Her research at the University of Indonesia’s Center for Biodiversity Strategies in Jakarta [was] related to her thesis on the evolution and population structure of the mammals. This research [helped] expand the body of knowledge on viruses that originate from bats.

“I feel fortunate in that this is an opportunity to nurture relationships with research colleagues in Indonesia and study an increasingly rare and endangered species in its natural habitat,” said Ms. Tsang. She noted that at least 20 of 61 recognized species of flying fox are present in Indonesia.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Queens from age five, Ms. Tsang is one of the few foreign experts authorized by the Indonesian government to conduct research on flying foxes in that country.

She spent the summer of 2013 in Singapore on a National Science Foundation East Asia Pacific Summer Institute Graduate Fellowship to familiarize herself with the bats and develop genetic tools to work with them. She also did research related to her doctoral thesis in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore.