Some wonderful friendships, with staff and students, came out of the School of Chemistry, and the community spirit definitely facilitated that.
I completed a double degree (BA in History and Philosophy of Science /BSc (Hons) in Chemistry) at The University of Melbourne in 2008. I was drawn to chemistry from a young age as I enjoyed understanding what things are made of. At university I became especially interested in the experimental methods used by physical chemists to understand matter.
After my double degree I completed a Diploma of Education (Secondary) at RMIT and taught for a few years at a wonderful school called Sydney Road Community School. I then returned to University of Melbourne to pursue my interest in physical chemistry by enrolling in a PhD, which I completed in 2016.
My PhD project was part of a collaboration between groups in the School of Chemistry and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. I used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study the way certain antimicrobial peptides interacted with Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterium responsible for many hospital-acquired infections. AFM has the capacity for both high resolution imaging and force measurement, which allowed us to study the way antimicrobial peptides interacted with the K. pneumoniae polysaccharide capsule, known to be a key virulence factor of the species. In addition to conducting research, I enjoyed being a part of the School of Chemistry community. I frequently attended the MUCS (Melbourne University Chemical Society) seminars and it was always nice to engage in discussions with other members of the School. Some wonderful friendships, with staff and students, came out of the School of Chemistry, and the community spirit definitely facilitated that.
Since completing my PhD, I have spent nearly two years working as a postdoc in an immunology group at Institut Cochin, Paris. I was hired to start up a biophysics project at the institute measuring traction forces of phagocytosing cells. It’s been challenging to learn about a whole new area of biology, but completing my PhD taught me how to break down a big problem into many smaller steps, which stops it from becoming overwhelming. The project is really exciting and it’s nice to see a technique that you established at the institute yield interesting results.