Associate Professor Lina Yao, from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, was recognised for her excellence in Higher Degree Research Supervision. Dr Yao is the recipient of the 2020 UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Supervisor Excellence - Emerging Supervisor Category.

We sat down with one of her PhD students- Lei Bai, who was awarded 2020 Google PhD Fellowship, to know more about how she works behind the scenes.

“The hardest part for a HDR supervisor is to give proper guidance while respecting students’ personal interests and independent ideas, and Lina sets a very high standard in this point,” said Lei Bai.

“Lina and I meet at least once a week to discuss our work. During each meeting, she always listens to my views at first and then gives her professional advice patiently, which helps me avoid wasting time on meaningless or wrong directions. At the same time, Lina always gives me sufficient trust and allows me to explore new topics that I am interested in, which greatly trains my independent research ability.”

Apart from the tremendous help in research, Lei Bai described how Lina cares about her students’ future development fervently. “She always puts my best interest first and tries to make me competitive in every aspect. She encourages and recommends I attend the ICL-TUM Global Fellowship programme as the only representative of the Engineering faculty, which assist my communication skills and collaborative work abilities. It is also as a result of Lina that I was successfully awarded a 2020 Google PhD Fellowship, which I would never imagine possible,” he said.

The UNSW Teaching and Research Supervisor Excellence Award ceremony was held on 20 November 2020.