Dr. Oluwarotimi Williams SAMUEL obtained a Ph.D. degree in Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing in 2018 courtesy of the CAS-TWAS president’s fellowship, receiving several distinguished honors and awards during the program. And this is his story in China:
I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow courtesy of the CAS-PIFI programme at the Center for Neural Engineering, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
As a young Nigerian academic who is enthusiastic about advancing science and technology through Artificial Intelligence concept towards providing affordable and lasting solutions to real-life problems, I received the CAS-TWAS Presidents’ fellowship award in 2014 to pursue a PhD degree at the University of Chinese Academy of Science (UCAS) under the mentorship of Prof. Li Guanglin, shortly after obtaining my master degree. I considered it a big opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree as well as my scientific dream outside the shores of my dear country (Nigeria) mainly because of curiosity to experience science/education from other parts of the world.
Remarkably, at that time, China has the fastest growing economy with lots of emerging technological tools and devices. Shortly after arriving the International College of UCAS (ICUCAS) located in Haidian District, Beijing, on 5th September 2014, I completed the official registration for my PhD admission (signed up for a total of five courses including three Chinese two Professional). Interestingly, the mix of learning about Chinese language and its rich cultural heritage truly made my experience at UCAS exciting.
Additionally, the teaching style/pattern adopted by my teachers at UCAS truly helped me to gain a lot of experience from the courses within a relatively short space of time, which I supposed accounted for the excellent grades received after the completion of the courses. Though challenging, but it was worth it because at the end of my course work, I had acquired a reasonable amount of knowledge that was helpful for my PhD research work. This style of instruction simply reflect the connection between teaching and research in China’s educational system, thus enabling one to learn much within a relatively short time-frame.
Upon successful completion of my Ph.D. courses in Beijing, I joined the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SIAT-CAS) in January 2015, and immediately commenced my research work under the supervision of Prof. Li Guanglin.
Motivated by the need to develop the next-generation rehabilitation robot control mechanism for motor function restoration in the constantly increasing people with limb disability, I my research focuses on understanding the biomechanics of upper extremity motor function and how related movement intent could be adequately decoded from biological signals to provide consistently accurate control input for such assistive devices.
In this direction, I have done a number of projects one of which was to resolve the adverse impact of mobility. That is, a systematic framework was firstly designed to investigate the adverse impact of mobility (a critical issue that has not been examined before now) on decoding multiple-patterns of targeted limb movement intents. The investigation was conducted based on surface electromyogram (sEMG) and accelerometer mechanomyogram (ACCmmg) signals acquired simultaneously from six upper-limb amputees across a static scenario and three non-static scenarios, which performed seven classes of pre-defined limb movements.
The experimental results obviously indicated that mobility could substantially affect the overall performance of multiple degrees of freedom upper-limb prostheses. Interestingly, with the aid of a Dual-Stage Sequential technique which I proposed, the adverse impact of mobility on decoding multiple-patterns of targeted limb movement intents was significantly mitigated, making it the first study to address such a problem to be best of my knowledge.
There is no doubt, I faced several challenges during my Ph.D. research period to the extent that I thought quitting would be the best option, particularly during the first 6 months. However, I was strongly encouraged by my zeal for scientific research and as well motivated by the support from my family, and my team, and eventually things began to take shape as time went on. Interestingly, two of the feature extraction methods I proposed are currently being utilized in my research team and also by notable researchers in my field around the world.
The relevance of my works did brought forth several awards/honors including distinguished Ph.D. dissertation, best academic paper award, excellent foreign student as well as excellent international graduate award, amongst others.
As a Postdoc Research Fellow, I have been privilege to receive a number of research funding awards including the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and CAS President’s International Fellowship Initiative as the Principal Investigator. I have equally had the privilege of co-investigating a number of international collaborative research projects, and I was also honored with the 2019 IEEE outstanding young investigator research visit award.
As part of the research out in the last four years, more than 50 scientific articles have been published in reputable peered-review international Journals (SCI-indexed) and conference proceedings (EIindexed), and more than 30% of the articles are first authors papers.
Aside academic/research, my family and social life have been worthwhile since I arrived China. I am married to Mojisola Grace Samuel (Nee Asogbon), who is currently a third year PhD student here in SIAT-CAS courtesy of the Chinese Government Scholarship (CSC) programme.
In fact, we are blessed with two beautiful daughters (Oluwatosin Glory Samuel and Oluwabusola Gift Samuel), both born in Shenzhen, China. Balancing work and family life comes with a lot of challenges but I would say it’s been an amazing experience thus far.
Finally, it is worth noting the sponsorship opportunities granted unto me by the CAS-TWAS President’s fellowship and the CAS-PIFI initiatives were very much instrumental towards all of the above mentioned achievements and others from September 2014 till now. Therefore, I say a big thank you to CAS, TWAS, UCAS, SIAT, my supervisor (Prof. Li Guanglin), friends, wellwishers, and above all my family and God Almighty. I do hope CAS will continually provide young talented academics with the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
52 Sanlihe Rd., Beijing,