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Alumni represent NYSF at PharmAus2017 showcase - feature image, used as a supportive image and isn't important to understand article

"I learned a lot about many exciting industry-based career pathways that I had not considered before."

Offering NYSF participants opportunities to gain a better understanding of Australian industry and where scientists fit in is one of the aims of the NYSF partnership program.

Recently, two NYSF alumni represented the NYSF at PharmAus 2017, a showcase of health and economic benefits of innovation in medicines, presented by Medicines Australia at Parliament House in Canberra. Joe Kaczmarski and Merryn Fraser were invited to the event by Amgen Australia, a company that supports the NYSF.

Joe Kaczmarski, who attended the NYSF in 2009, said it was great to hear about the work that companies such as Amgen Australia were doing. “I particularly enjoyed their display which featured a virtual reality tour of the Amgen laboratories. It looked like they were using similar techniques and equipment as we do in our lab, just at a much larger scale.”

“I work in a protein engineering lab, studying the structures of biological molecules to better understand how we can manipulate them for useful applications in medicine, bio-remediation and industrial processes. So it was inspiring and exciting to be in a room filled with people from the pharmaceutical industry who were taking a similar approach to tackling complex disease and improving world-wide health. I learned a lot about many exciting industry-based career pathways that I had not considered before, and talked to many people about their experience transitioning from research into industry.”

Joe originally comes from Tasmania, and is studying for his PhD at the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University (ANU) where he also did his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology. After coming to NYSF in 2009 he returned as a student staff leader in 2010.

Joe says he values any opportunity to share his experiences of the NYSF. “Having the chance to discuss the importance of inspiring students to take an interest in the sciences with the politicians who visited the stand, and the leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, was really unique. These kinds of interactive partnerships between schools, universities, programs like the NYSF, and industries really do make a difference. It’s something that I am very passionate about.”

Alumni represent NYSF at PharmAus2017 showcase - content image

“It was encouraging to see that the politicians acknowledged the importance of supporting research in the life sciences. They were all interested in learning more about the impact that our research could have on the wider community. It was exciting talking to policy makers about the emerging research that is happening, and it really highlighted to me that there needs to be better communication between scientists and politicians.”

“It was also a great chance for me to practice talking about the importance of my science to people outside of the field - a skill that is vital (and surprisingly difficult) to develop as a young scientist.”

Joe says that the benefits of attending the NYSF continue long after the program itself finishes.

“I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if I had not attended the NYSF in Canberra in 2009.

“I am very happy that the NYSF opened my eyes to the amazing facilities and exciting research that is happening in Canberra, and for showing me what life was like living on campus at ANU.”

“Now as a PhD student studying protein chemistry, I love that I often run into other NYSF alumni around the ANU, as well as at research conferences and events all over the country. It is very interesting to see where past NYSF participants have ended up, and I always learn something of value from these discussions. And we always talk about how attending the NYSF was a big contributing factor in our decisions to pursue science.”