What is your dream?
I want to become a veterinary physician-investigator, combining clinical knowledge with a broad
scientific background to tackle tough research questions relevant to real-world problems in human
and animal health.
How did you find your passion?
I discovered my passion for research at Stanford University, where, as an undergraduate studying
biology, I co-discovered a genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. Since then, I’ve coordinated a clinical
study of bone health in teenagers with anorexia nervosa, and I’m currently researching how Ross
River virus affects horse health and how the emerging Liaoning virus in spreading in Australia.
Tell us about your dreams / goals for the next 12 months?
I am currently completing my veterinary degree, which will give me a solid clinical foundation, while
also pursuing several research projects in order to develop my scientific skills. This summer, I
collaborated with a leading team in metagenomic bioinformatics, which uses computers to analyse
large genetic datasets that can’t be analysed by traditional means. Using these and other methods,
our group made exciting discoveries about how parasite infections impact behaviour and health,
which will be submitted to a scientific journal for publication in the upcoming months. I was
recently elected by my fellow students as “Vet Mom”, an older student who welcomes first-years
and helps them with advice about studying and how to navigate the vet school world. I also serve as
the President of the UQ Veterinary Student Association (UQVSA) Pathology Special Interest Group
and the Treasurer of the UQVSA Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Special Interest Group. To
support student community and learning, I plan to run several inaugural events such as informal
career teas with distinguished faculty, special pathology practicals, and laboratory field trips. In
November, I will go to Brazil with a small team of other veterinary students and mentors for an
intensive clinical rotation working in local villages and animal rescues. I am excited to get hands-on
clinical experience in the field, and my goal will be to learn as much as I can about veterinary care in
rural communities and how this relates to public health.
How will the scholarship support your endeavours?
The AFTS grant enabled me to work with Professor Urich, a leader in metagenomic bioinformatics. I
learned cutting-edge techniques and used them to better understand how the community of
bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tract influences behaviour and health. This work will contribute
to a publication in a scientific journal.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
At Stanford University, I researched genetic risk factors for schizophrenia. My work contributed to an
article in the journal Nature Neuroscience on which I am a co-author.
How important is inspiration in your life?
For me, inspiration is the gateway to new projects, creative solutions to difficult problems,
connecting the dots between different scientific disciplines, and entering a state of flow where I can
be intensely focused on what I’m doing.
Who’s your hero (and why)?
I admire my best friend, who has lived with depression her whole life, but always has a bear hug
ready to cheer up others. My heroes are most of all ordinary people who, in the face of great
obstacles, choose to stand up for or lessen the suffering of others.
How will you support your community in the future?
My family’s immigrant background has made me aware of the advantages that I’ve had. I feel
fortunate for the opportunities that I’ve had—from the privilege to study at world-class institutions
to the ability to travel and live all over the world—and I’m aware that they were possible because of
my community’s investment in me. I’m committed to giving back by using my education to benefit
others. As an academic researcher, I plan to use my clinical and research skills to teach future
generations of veterinary students about the value of scientific investigation. I will mentor young
researchers - especially those from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, who often lack
the support networks important to scientific success. I hope that my work will broadly advance the
veterinary profession in a way that will improve animal health more than I could if I were solely in
What’s the motto that you live by?
"Be kind." From George Saunders' 2013 convocation speech at Syracuse University: "So here’s
something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being
was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it
from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most
undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet."
This is a hard one to answer because I recently got a Spotify subscription, and I've been listening to
Bulk flats of mangoes from the farmers' market.
I've been reading a lot of Haruki Murakami and Gabriel García Márquez lately.
Favourite TV Show?
Arrested Development and David Attenborough documentaries.
If you had one message to share with other women chasing their dreams what would you say?
Aim high and do your homework (to paraphrase a wonderful mentor), and make time for the things
most important to you.