Sidong Liu’s talents stretch far beyond his work as a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation leading the AI in Medical Imaging research stream at the Centre for Health Informatics. Sidong is also a car enthusiast, Mah-jongg lover and he is passionate about all things outdoors.
Before Sidong joined Macquarie University in 2019 he was a research fellow at The University of Sydney where he completed his PhD in 2015. Sidong’s background is in computer science and bioinformatics, however, his PhD and post-doc research has seen him mostly working in clinical environment, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital.
The strange swings in weather that Sydney sometimes experiences at this time of year are nothing compared with the temperature shifts Sidong has experienced when returning to his hometown of Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, China. The town is adjacent to Harbin, known as the ‘Ice City’ in China and is closer to the borders of Russia, Mongolia and Korea, than to Beijing.
“Winter in my hometown is usually five months long. I was once coming back to Suihua from Sydney in December – it was summer in Australia and winter in China, and the temperature difference was 60 degrees.”
1. Something you feel proud of
I was named the Early Career Researcher of the Year (STEMM category) at Macquarie’s Research Excellence Awards 2021. This wouldn’t have been possible without the constant support from my mentors, Professor Enrico Coiera and Professor Shlomo Berkovsky, my team members, students, and collaborators.
2. A person you admire at Macquarie, and why
Professor Antonio Di Ieva, Head of the Computational NeuroSurgery Lab at Macquarie Medical School. He’s truly a wise man and a good friend. He is a natural leader, knowledgeable, conscientious, very energetic, and highly dedicated to research.
3. What you need to do your best work
Appreciate failure. Unsuccessful experiments, rejected manuscripts and grants, are not rare in research; sometimes these failures can teach us more than successes. We need to learn how to take a positive spin from failure and make ourselves stronger and wiser.
4. The coolest bit of equipment you use in your work, and what it does
We have a really cool workstation computer at our lab. It is made by NVidia, with all the good stuff including four powerful GPUs and even a water-cooling system. We use it for developing our AI models for many research projects, such as computational analysis and automated diagnosis of brain tumours.
5. A favourite photo from your camera roll
I have two and I couldn’t choose.
Left: A Stormtrooper helmet sitting on my bookshelf. My daughters put my Google glasses, headphones, and a Santa’s hat on it. I find it both harmonious and hilarious.
Right: My daughters picking mushrooms at Vulcan State Forest in Oberon. This photo was taken during the Easter break this year.
Note: We were picking these mushrooms to eat, but if you’re thinking of taking this up as an outdoor activity – make sure you have done your research and know what you’re doing. Only two types of mushrooms are safe to eat: saffron milk-caps (shown in the photo) and slippery jacks. We have done this two to three times a year for the last five years. Check out the Oberon Visitor Information webpage for more information on this activity around that area.
6. The first person you go to for advice
My wife. She’s my Muse and my Lady Luck. She’s also a lawyer, so I have to take her advice, don’t I?
7. A website or app you can’t live without
WeChat. I use WeChat for connecting to my friends, and LinkedIn for building my professional network. On LinkedIn, I am only a scientist, but on WeChat, I am a car enthusiast, a Mah-jongg lover, a basketball player, a cyclist, a camper and a skier.
8. Where you live and what you like about living there
Killara. It’s six minutes away from Macquarie; living there saves me a lot of time.
9. A personal quality you value in others
Courage to speak the unpopular truth
10. I’m happiest when…
I’m spending quality time with my family and friends. I like outdoor activities, such as bushwalking, cycling, camping, and fruit picking. I’m happiest when doing these with my family and friends.