NUS PhD 14 February 2017

A PhD in Love

In an extremely popular Christmas-time movie opening, Hugh Grant says, “Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends… If you look for it, I’ve a sneaky feeling you’d find that love actually, is, all around.”

This definitely rings through for Noriko and Jingxiang, Peisha and Yuehua, and Isabel and Miaolei – where our PhD programmes have helped played cupid with these couples. They share about their passion for academic excellence and of course, each other!


Noriko and Jingxiang
Both are currently 2nd year PhD students in the Department of Management and Organisation. They specialise in organisational behaviour. They’re currently engaged and will tie the knot in August.


Q: How did your paths lead you into the PhD programme?
JX: I majored in Psychology as an undergrad. I felt organisational research would be an area where psychology can be applied practically. It’s definitely interesting to observe people’s work behaviour.
N: I was working in a consulting firm and felt this would help me understand and apply myself better at work.

Q: So, how exactly did you two meet?
We first met in the PhD office! With two other batch mates, all of us were meeting to go out for lunch.

Q: And, what happened after?
JX: I thought we could click quite well with each other.
N: I thought he was kind of nerdy, but considerate and sincere.
JX: After that, I asked her out on a date to watch a horror movie! Then, I highlighted a paragraph in an article saying that going to a movie with a guy means liking him. We met the following day – I wrote a song and sang it to her, and we were together.


Q: Some say couples need a level of friction or annoyance to balance their relationship. What are your pet peeves with each other?
N: When we read stuff together, like menus, I’d read really fast in English and slower in Chinese. He’s the total opposite. We’d end up scrolling faster than what the other can read!

Q: How has being part of the PhD programme affected you? 
JX: Studying for your PhD is not for relaxation, and definitely not a way to avoid work pressure.
N: Sometimes we speak in academic jargon to friends without realising it, and they’ll go “excuse me, what?”


Peisha and Yuehua
Peisha is a 4th year PhD student while Yuehua is a 5th year. Both are in the Accounting Department. They’ve been happily married since 2012 and are delaying their honeymoon till after they graduate.


Q: How did you decide to enroll into the PhD programme?
YH: I previously majored in Economics, and thought Accounting would be an interesting area to explore.
 Shortly after he enrolled, I became keen to take the same path. I applied to both Finance and Accounting programmes, and got accepted into Accounting!



Q: So, how exactly did you two meet?
PS: During our Masters study in Xiamen University, we were both in the same elective module. We ended up as partners for the project.

Q: Did you expect to get together?
PS: We didn’t start dating until the start of the second semester. I thought he was nice and gentle, and a little chubby.
YH: I asked her out for dinner, and the rest is history!

Q: Any myths of PhD study you want to dispel?
PS: Think carefully before applying! It is stressful and the opportunity costs is quite high. You’d need a lot of discipline and self-motivation.


Q: With both of you enrolled in the same course at the same time, has that affected your relationship?
PS: Be patient and considerate to each other.  Listen to each other’s opinions before making decisions.
YH: We’re lucky to be in the same department, so we support each other and understand the kinds of stress we’re going through. We also have the same goals of being researchers, so that’s always a plus!



Isabel and Miaolei
Both are currently part of the Department of Marketing. Isabel is in her 2nd year specialising in consumer health and well-being while Miaolei is in his 4th year where his research focus is on consumer budgeting. They got married last June and are planning their honeymoon this year.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a PhD?
I: I graduated from the BBA programme in 2011 and worked at a consulting firm for 3 years. I’m intrigued by consumer behaviour and joined NUS Marketing as a research assistant. I loved what I was doing and applied to the PhD programme after a year.
ML: I came to Singapore from Beijing 4 years ago after finishing my undergrad and Masters in Marketing. I’ve always enjoyed campus life and research, so this was a natural path for me.

 Q: And that was how both of you met?
I: I was a research assistant, and Miaolei was a 2nd year PhD student. On the first week of the academic year, we were both supposed to be teaching assistants to an undergraduate class. Jothi (our department secretary) and Miaolei came to my office to discuss the class plans and..
ML: I liked her the moment I met her!

Q: Were you expecting yourselves to date, or even get married?
ML: I totally did not expect to date a Singaporean girl, and to get married in Singapore! It is a wonderful surprise.
I: Not at all! I was still mulling over the PhD programme, much less to meet anyone from the programme.

Q: What are some of the challenges you faced balancing a full load of work and dating?
I: Even though we dated for a year, our friends joke that it seems like 3 to 4 years instead – we see each other very often, work, study, and eat together.
ML: In fact, we can discuss about classes and research anytime, so it feels like we constantly have a study/work partner with us, which helps a lot!

Q: How tough is tough to be in a PhD programme?
I: Many people may think that PhD students only sit at the desk all day and read papers. One of the best parts is conducting field studies, being out there, collecting data, interacting with participants of the study. You get to see the direct impact the field studies have on real consumers and their behavior.
ML: You get to attend conferences too – we’ve been to Hong Kong, Germany and the United States, and have met renowned researchers in our field. We’ve made friends with other PhD students all around the world, visit cities we’ve not been to. It’s an enriching experience.
I: If you are inquisitive, enjoy thinking, willing to work hard, and passionate for research, then you can consider pursuing a PhD.



Find out more about NUS Business School’s PhD programmes here or send your queries to: