From Gymnastics to Neuroscience, Veronika Cencen is leaping from strength to strength.
Bio-engineering PhD student Veronika Cencen’s upbringing, hobbies and interests have seen her go from growing up in Beijing, and Slovenia, to studying at Princeton and The University of Ottawa, and performing gymnastics in Slovenian national team at the World University Games in 2013.
HKUST’s international outlook and reputation makes the next logical stop, where Veronika gets to conduct ground-breaking research and unravel the mysteries of the mind. Veronika chose HKUST for its research and faculty strength, top notch Nanosystem Fabrication Facility, and the fact her supervisor has strong co-operative links with Cambridge University. “HKUST is bursting with its youthful energy, enthusiasm, acceptance, and encouragement of diverse interests,” Veronika says.
Veronika loves the amazing and unique campus environment. “My first impression here was its beautiful campus by the sea,” she says. “And I always come across people from all nationalities here – in seminars, alumni gatherings, conferences or even athletic events. I am very impressed with the diversity of HKUST.” Having said that, there are still challenges particularly with her diverse interests outside of academic work. “My schedule is very controlled here compared to graduate studies in the west,” says Veronika.
The ties with gymnastics go deep for Veronika, who has a long history of sacrifice for the sport –much strength required, lack of sleep and cancelled social events. Was it ever too much? “Gymnastics is my best friend, my mentor. It follows me wherever I go, teaches me discipline, and keeps me in very favorable social circles,” she says.
Veronika’s work in neuroscience and bio technology is leading her to develop a brain probe that will look at memory loss and retention – with potential applications for diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Aside from deciphering the inner workings of the mind, Veronika would like to continue practicing gymnastics and raising awareness of the sport in HKUST through establishing a gymnastics club by 2019 – all while advancing solutions to mental disease.