Student & ECR Spotlight – Meet Huong Ly Tong who is curious about how technology can help us be healthier

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I am a PhD researcher in Artificial Intelligence at Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University. My work looks at how we can use cool technologies like mobile apps, fitness trackers or social media to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

I have a background in Public Health. I completed my Bachelor of Health in 2016. In my last year of my Bachelor, I fell in love with research through my internships at Australia’s CSIRO and University of New South Wales. I then pursued my Master of Research, looking at how social media and apps can promote physical activity. After working full time as a Research Officer, I am now doing my PhD, digging deeper into how to optimise technologies for health.

How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

I am very lucky that in my daily work I get to play with innovative technologies and try to figure out how to design them to support people’s health. My research looks at an exciting new area—personalisation of technologies; specifically, how to deliver exactly what a person needs, at the time they need it the most, in the manner they’d be most receptive to. I believe that personalised technology can give people what they want and need in order to have a healthy lifestyle.

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

I am naturally curious, so I love learning new things, asking questions and taking on new projects. Therefore, research has been a great fit for me. A challenge (not so much a barrier) I face is how to prioritise different projects and research interests. That is something I continue to learn and work on everyday, and ultimately I think it is about regularly accessing your work and progress, identifying the two or three most important things to you, and focusing your energy on those things.

What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

As an early career researcher, one thing I’ve found really helpful is having great mentors and supportive networks. I am really thankful for the mentorship and friendship from my PhD supervisors and fellow students/ECRs. It has really helped me grow professionally and personally.

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field?

I am really excited to see how artificial intelligence, machine learning and the increasing amount of data we can get from sensor and smart devices can be leveraged to deliver behaviour change support.

You can get in touch with Huong Ly Tong via email: [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @lytong22