STEMM Profile: Amal Mohamed Dameer | Medical Doctor & PhD Student | RMIT University | Melbourne | VIC

“To every opportunity – give everything a go and see how all your personal attributes and talents can be used to make you a well-rounded scientist”

Amal Mohamed Dameer is a medical doctor and also a third year PhD candidate at RMIT University. She has a passion for combining medicine and science to uncover new ways to improve management and treatment of medical diseases. She also has a creative side which she uses in her passion for science communication to raise health literacy in the general public to help people take care of their health with awareness and to be out of hospital. Her current pet project, outside her PhD work, is to raise awareness about obstructive sleep apnoea among health professionals and patients through her research and science communication. Amal’s PhD focuses on developing screening for obstructive sleep apnoea that is tailored for a cardiology population in whom there is no effective screening. She also has an Honorary Researcher position at Austin Health under the Cardiology and Respiratory/Sleep departments. She also holds the position of Respiratory Council Member representative to the Australasian Sleep Association conference organising committee. During her PhD she mentors and teaches students in all aspects of clinical trials and obstructive sleep apnoea. Apart from medicine and research, she likes to travel and experience different cultures, dabble with photography, fashion, movies and wind down with family and friends.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in STEMM?

Be open. Be open minded about everything. To even the silliest ideas just as we are to the obvious grand one. To every opportunity – give everything a go and see how all your personal attributes and talents can be used to make you a well-rounded scientist. STEMM is a very big environment and science can be used in the laboratory or hospitals to explore ideas, creatively channelled through writing and animating to audiences, in science journalism, to make policies and inform government, build businesses from breakthroughs, and more. You can always find a path that you can leverage your passion with your talents and enjoy traveling on with your science.

What would you like to be if you cannot be a scientist?

A film director. Or if that doesn’t work out then maybe a travel photojournalist?

If you have done a PhD – what are your transferable skills? How did you identify them?

I didn’t realise it until later in my PhD but I was developing another line of thinking than I originally thought as a clinician. A scientific thinking where we question even the little things and where there is possibility even in the mundane if we look for it. And to give reasons why something was the way it was while constantly improving an idea with information. I also found I had to often explain my research in various forms to various audiences e.g. speaking, writing, and challenges such as in 3 minutes. We need to draw up research proposals, design and plan for a research, present at conferences, represent a research team, liaise in collaborative work, risk assess, budget, strategize to gain research funding – all transferable to any project management within any industry. It is all transferable skills into policy making, government and business where you need to build a case, pitch and draw an industry/business proposal while working with a team for a common goal. The speaking and writing skills I gained can be easily transferred to other industry within the scientific-medical ecosystem. Also thinking on my feet to address any question towards my project at anytime!

Do you have a mentor(s)? What is the most crucial aspect of your professional relationship?

Yes, I have a mentor. I think the most crucial aspect is having open conversations with somebody who has already climbed the ladder and has a wide angle view from the top, and who is willing to honestly help the younger ones find their way.

My mentor was able to show me what options exists beyond a PhD while seeing how she can help me with that. She was also able to connect me with other people as well in my work and broaden my network to learn from or if it suited my interest. I’m really grateful to have in her someone always there looking out for me, to offer advice/tips or to just talk to and pass through applications to refine them with a discussion from her insights. And to rock up to encourage and root for me at pitches if she can!

Another crucial aspect was as a woman: having an eye-opening female perspective of another woman who had gone up the ladder and was managing a high profile job and insights on how she approached it all with family priorities – which is great for a young budding clinician scientist. I’m super grateful to have in her a friend too.

In your current role, do you have the lifestyle you’ve been aiming for?

Well, now as a sleep scientist I cannot stress enough on work life balance for a healthy balanced life to any individual. Too much work and no play makes Joe a dull boy – and we don’t want that to reflect in our work. Although sometimes it’s hard with unexpected deadlines and when you manage your own project. I’m aiming to have a balance with work, family, friends and adventures.

LinkedIn: Amal Mohamed Dameer