What is your dream?
My dream is to contribute to the discovery of effective treatments for traumatic spinal cord injury, a
condition which significantly reduces the quality of life for over 15 000 Australians and many more
around the world. The opportunity to undertake neurotrauma research in world-class neuroscience
institutes will bring me significantly closer to achieving my goal.
How did you find your passion?
I have long been fascinated by how the human body works, and what goes wrong when it doesn’t.
In pursuing an interest in biology, I undertook a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Queensland. After graduation, I was accepted into the Honours neuroscience research program at UQ. Working in the Neural Injury and Repair Laboratory consolidated a love for scientific inquiry, and I subsequently received a scholarship to undertake a PhD focusing on spinal cord injury research. During my PhD I travelled to the USA to receive further research training. This involved interacting with patients in a clinical setting, and the experience really opened my eyes to how devastating spinal injuries are in human terms, and how urgently effective therapies are needed. I returned to Brisbane with a renewed passion and determination to become the best scientist I can be. Since the award of my doctorate, I have been working as an early career scientist at UQ, and I’m excited aboutpursuing a spinal injury research career in the future.
Tell us about your dreams / goals for the next 12 months?
This year I have the amazing opportunity to be a post-doctoral scholar at the Centre for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair in the United States. Here, I will undertake advanced studies investigating strategies to promote repair of spinal tissue. Establishing myself in an unfamiliar overseas environment will be a big transition, but I believe that I have the skills, motivation, and perseverance to take this major step toward achieving my goal.
How will the scholarship support your endeavours?
Undertaking a new position in America is a fantastic opportunity, but not without cost. The award of this grant will enable me to finance the trip to the US and cover the initial cost of living until I am more settled in the new environment, and help me to rapidly commence investigations.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement would have to be completing my PhD in neuroscience. This intense four year project involved painstaking hours in the lab collecting and analysing experimental data.
However, the perseverance paid off and I published discoveries on spinal cord injury pathology and mechanisms of neural tissue repair. Other career highlights include winning grants to receive research training in the US and the UK (University of Cambridge), and presenting my findings at international conferences.
How important is inspiration in your life?
Inspiration is critical for the design of novel experiments that could ultimately translate into clinical improvements for patients. Seeking inspiration from mentors, patients, scientific publications, and eminent researchers has dramatically improved my creativity, transformed the way I perceive my own capabilities, and awakened new ways of looking at complex problems that previously seemed almost impossible to solve.
Who’s your hero (and why)?
My hero would have to my mum. Her unwavering love, grace, selflessness and wisdom through intense adversity has given me the courage to persevere through my own challenges.
How will you support your community in the future?
I’m passionate about advocating for medical research that can make a difference in the lives of people who suffer debilitating disorders, and will continue to organise and fundraise for community events that promote improved patient care and the advancement of medical research. I also strongly believe that encouraging women to pursue their scientific and academic aspirations will be critical for the discovery of new treatments and medical breakthroughs, and will continue teaching
and mentoring more junior women in science.
What’s the motto that you live by?
‘Even the smallest person can change the course of the future’ – Tolkien
Vance Joy, Ella Henderson, Pentatonix
My husband’s chicken soup, and almost anything sweet!
Favourite TV Show?
If you had one message to share with other women chasing their dreams what would you say?
Don’t be afraid to try - believe in yourself! Don't give up!