Rui Ying Goh describes their experience travelling to Belgium as a visiting scholar during their PhD.
 Recounting a research visit to LIRIS, KU Leuven

As travel restrictions lifted, I was lucky enough to conduct a research visit at KU Leuven from April to June 2022. In this post, I will share my journey during the three-month visit.

Aim of the research visit

My PhD is focused on financial modelling for Open Banking, where the most recent project focuses on assessing anomaly risk from current account cash flow transactions. This research visit allowed me to collaborate with an expert in anomaly detection to guide me in designing the research methodology.

Host university and research expertise

The research visit took place at the research centre for Information Systems Engineering (LIRIS) in KU Leuven. I worked closely with Prof Johannes de Smedt, who is an expert in data science and business informatics. Throughout my research stay, I joined several academic seminars on outlier detection which showcased innovative algorithms to capture anomalies, which was interesting new knowledge for me.

I also presented my research output in LIRIS. It was an engaging presentation, with inspiring ideas and feedback that will be helpful for improving my current output. Getting to know research colleagues in LIRIS also expanded my network, stimulated research discussion, and enhanced sharing of research ideas.

Working culture

LIRIS has a lively office environment where the office doors are always open, unless there's someone in an online meeting. Students can always pop into each other's offices whenever there are any questions to discuss with colleagues, or if you just need someone for a short chit-chat. This encourages casual research discussions within daily conversations and closer bonding among the students.

I also like their 'tea-time break' culture which is a short refreshing break in the afternoon. On sunny days, we went out for a spike ball game. Sometimes, it would be a coffee/ice cream break before we proceeded to work until the evening.

KU Leuven photo by Rui Ying Goh

Beyond research

Apart from the research routine, I also got to know friends from all over the world in my accommodation. It is very exciting to be friends with new people and understand their cultures. I also had a great time exploring attractions in Leuven, which was my first trip after two years of lockdown, thus making it a more enjoyable one.

I am grateful for the warm hospitality from my host and every friendly colleague that I met in LIRIS that made this a fruitful and memorable visit. This research stay is a short recharge that motivated me to keep moving through my PhD journey. I would definitely encourage other PhDs to go for a research visit, not only for network-building but also for a refresh in your PhD life!