Future Scientists Take the Stage

Cancer, chronic disease, therapeutic drug synthesis – it’s impossible to know where the bright young minds that presented at last Friday’s UROP Conference Day are destined to make a difference. But one thing that’s certain is that these budding researchers are only just getting started.

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Jaclyn Pearson (left) mingled with students after her keynote address.

This successful event, run by Biomedical Research Victoria, hosted over 70 students, supervisors and visitors and was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Scholars gave short presentations on the research they had completed through the CSL-sponsored UROP program at one of many institutions around Victoria, including, for the first time, Geelong’s Deakin University.

Keynote speaker Jaclyn Pearson from the Doherty Institute provided a treat as she shared her inspirational, successful – yet somewhat unconventional – journey to academic fame. UROP scholars were eager to ask Pearson about her academic career and pick her brain for tips as they overlooked the Yarra River in the conference foyer during morning tea.

Associate Professor Eugene Maraskovsky, Head of the Cell Biology and Physiology department within CSL Research at the Bio21 Institute, warmly welcomed the new 2016 UROP cohort and presented the students with pins and certificates.

As the day drew to a close, CSL’s Pierre Scotney admitted the high standard of presentations made picking the best presenters a difficult task for him and fellow judges Mitchell Lawrence (Monash University) and Mirana Ramialison (ARMI). But the awards for the most outstanding computational and biomedical presentations went to Edmund Lau (VLSCI) and Christina Gangemi (ARMI), with runners-up Max Plumley (Monash University) and Stefan Saggese (ARMI) coming in at a close second.

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UROP scholar Nicole Page (left) presented her work conducted at Deakin University and CSL’s Pierre Scotney awarded the best presentations at the event’s conclusion (right).

The students’ professionalism in their presentations and confidence in their projects were a testament to the great science that UROP placements continue to yield.

Yet more evidence came to light as we learned a paper co-authored by UROP alumni Naomi Cohen had been accepted in the prestigious journal Nature. Her work on the evolution of the fin-to-limb transition of zebrafish during her UROP placement at ARMI under Wouter Masselink and Peter Currie is published in today’s issue of Nature. We would like to congratulate her for this outstanding achievement and wish her much success for the future.

“I owe so much to UROP,” said Cohen. “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such interesting research!”

With the next round of UROP student applications opening on August 1, we’re excited to see what talent will next pass through our doors.