Dr. Tan Suh Nih: Empowering Ocene Minds of XMUM Students


Many people balk at marine sciences, but lecturers at Xiamen University Malaysias China-ASEAN College of Marine Sciences (CAMS) aim to change that, striving to make this "abyssal discipline" engaging and accessible to students. 

Dr. Tan Suh Nih, with a PhD from the University of Malaya, has significantly contributed to marine science education since joining XMUM in March 2021. Her patience and creativity have made the study of waves and the sea both romantic and accessible for XMUM students.

Dr. Tan Suh Nih's research interests lie in marine algal ecology and toxicology. She focus on harmful toxin producers in Malaysian waters, namely genera of dinoflagellates such as Gymnodinium and Alexandrium.

"Coastal areas in countries like China and Malaysia often experience harmful algal blooms. Once they proliferate, they pose significant risks to human health and the entire ecosystem. Therefore, implementing prediction, early warning, and prevention measures using professional expertise is crucial," stated Dr. Tan Suh Nih.

In her study and research, Dr. Tan Suh Nih's patience and perseverance have been honed, and these qualities have also been brought into her teaching. 

According to students, Dr. Tan is meticulous, responsible, and willing to help solve various difficulties. Comments such as extremely patient, attentive and enthusiastic, and everyone likes her can be seen everywhere on the evaluation questionnaires. She always "cares for everyone like an elder sister", and approaches both the classroom and teaching with 100% enthusiasm.

Hearing such praise, Dr. Tan Suh Nih feels a bit bashful: "The choices made during university often have significant implications for one's life path. These choices are based on personal interests on one hand, and influenced by lecturers on the other hand. So, I believe the role of university lecturers is crucial."

Dr. Tan believes that to achieve good teaching results, one should first communicate with students effectively to ensure that no student falls behind. To this end, she engages in communication with students both inside and outside of class.


"Many students are introverted and may not initiate communication with me. In such cases, I seek out ways that they feel comfortable with to engage with them. Different students have different personalities, and as a lecturer, I need to change approaches accordingly."

Learning marine science entails certain theoretical barriers. To prevent students from feeling drowsy, Dr. Tan Suh Nih endeavors to use examples to explain abstract concepts. For instance, she may illustrate what chemical reactions occur in the body during exercise or hunger, allowing students to apply classroom knowledge to real-life scenarios

Dr. Tan Suh Nih also places great emphasis on the holistic development of students. Many courses in CAMS include extensive laboratory work and field trips, aiming to cultivate students' practical abilities. She even offers cooking classes during the short semester: 

"I hope that upon graduation, students will not only have good academic performance, but also possess solid soft skills - These include practical hands-on abilities and interpersonal skills, which are essential for thriving in society," she says.

Dr. Tan Suh Nih also has her own thoughts on the stereotypes on marine sciences. In her view, both mythologizing the discipline and demonizing the abyss are unnecessary. This discipline also offers countless possibilities for aspiring students.

"Everyone can leverage their strengths and make contributions to the ocean with their own efforts. If you enjoy frontline research, you can go on research vessels to collect samples. Those who are good with data can use mathematical models to provide warnings and predictions for ocean activities. And for those interested in imparting knowledge, they can become educators after graduated. There are many different paths within each discipline."

At the end of the interview, Dr. Tan Suh Nih had this message for the students of XMUM:

"I hope every student can follow their hearts, and approach each day of their lives with a positive attitude!"

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