“I will forever be grateful to the mentors who have pushed me outside of my comfort zone“
Mathilde Desselle is a programme coordinator for outreach for the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) at The University of Queensland’ Institute for Molecular Bioscience. She is looking for the next antibiotic in engaging academic chemists worldwide in an open-access compound screening program and setting up international partnerships. Mathilde has 8 years’ experience driving engagement strategies for medical research programs and facilities. She is passionate with finding innovative approaches to drive transformational change and solutions to diagnose, track and treat infectious diseases.
Mathilde is a Board Director for the Queensland-based Women in Technology peak industry body for women in science and technology careers, and for the Tech Girls Movement foundation, promoting positive role models to encourage and raise awareness of STEM careers for girls.
Mathilde completed a double Masters degree in bioengineering and business from the Catholic University of Lille and a Masters of International Economics from the University of the Littoral Opal Coast in France in 2008.
What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful scientist?
I would say having a drive. It takes passion, tenacity, and a vision to lead successful research initiatives, and I believe having an articulate “why” is essential to feed them. Don’t we always go back to what drives us when celebrating successful outcomes and overcoming rejection and failures?
What is one thing you would change to improve the gender balance in senior ranks of scientists?
Ending the “manel”. I would ask the 32 Australian universities and research institute who are part of the SAGE pilot, an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering that addresses gender equity in the STEMM sector, to make the following pledge: striving to achieve gender balance in all conferences and panel discussions they are hosting and organising.
What support structures did/do you have in place that have facilitated your success?
I will forever be grateful to the mentors who have pushed me outside of my comfort zone. We also have world-class facilities in Australia enabling ground-breaking research and innovative collaborative projects. I am looking for the next antibiotic to combat drug-resistant infections, and it takes advanced scientific, technological and administrative systems to function.
If at times your confidence is a little shaky, where do you turn?
I can count on a very supportive network of women and men around me, on their experiences and their expertise. There is always someone I can turn to for addressing concerns or uncertainties. I also practice mindfulness and Harvard Business School social psychologist Prof Amy Cuddy’s “power poses”. Watch her Ted talk on body language and challenge your inner wonder woman!
What is your ideal holiday – and do you work on your holiday?
My ideal holiday is being out horse riding on trails or beaches all day in New Zealand or in the USA. After I get off the saddle, I still follow up on pressing matters, and never lose an occasion to meet or connect with someone I could follow up with for professional matters, so I guess I rarely completely switch off.
Follow Mathilde on Twitter: @mathildesselle