STEMM PROFILE: Tracy Seymour | PhD Student | The University of Western Australia | Perth | WA
Thesis topic: Investigate cancer stem cells harbored within adult brain tumours and the mechanisms that govern tumour recurrence post-treatment
“I’ve come to accept that things won’t always go to plan and to not worry about the small mishaps”
I graduated with First Class Honours in Biomedical Science in 2014. My Honours research project investigated potential therapeutic targets and also the use of novel interference peptides for adult brain tumours. Following my Honours, I was very fortunate to be awarded the University Postgraduate Award and Western Australia Cancer Council PhD Top up scholarship to continue my love for research as a PhD candidate at The University of Western Australia. I am continuing from my Honours research project and further investigating adult brain tumours and the causes of tumour relapse after treatment using both in vitro and in vivo models.
I had my first real research laboratory experience while doing work experience with the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group. The experience was very encouraging and empowering as many women (researchers, students and volunteers) were involved. Now, collaborating with the Telethon Kids Institute, I again have the opportunity to work within a laboratory with many female role models.
After experiencing my father’s battle through cancer, my main research interest is in the search for novel therapeutic targets and therapies that will provide more effective treatment against cancers with minimal toxicity. My PhD project keeps me very busy but outside research my interest are keeping fit by regular visit to the gym and playing touch rugby.
What is it you love about science?
I love that everyday is different. Everyday I have the possibility to learn something new, discovery and produce new results and findings.
What has been the biggest challenge of your studies so far?
The biggest challenge has been accepting that things go wrong all the time. Science can be unpredictable and doesn’t always work the way you want! I’m a person that prefers to plan ahead and when something doesn’t go according to plan, I get very stressed. Over the course of my studies, I’ve come to accept that things won’t always go to plan and to not worry about the small mishaps.
How important are female role models to you?
Extremely important! As a second year PhD student, I’m starting to think about my career as a researcher. I’m very fortunate to have supervisors, mentors and peers that are female and their experiences and guidance is very valuable to me.
Do you have any mentors in your field? Have they given you a special piece of advice or guidance you’d like to share?
Throughout my studies I have been given a lot of advice. But I think the most important advice I’ve received from my PhD supervisors is to not feel guilty about taking breaks or holidays. As long as it reasonable, it’s fine to go on holidays during your studies. Sometimes you need to step back, take a break in order to move forward.
Did you do maths and science in high school?
I did maths, chemistry and human biology in high school but I also did art and home economics. Maths and science subjects were crucial for my undergraduate degree but by doing subjects where I could be creative and more relaxed allowed me to concentrate on the harder subjects. It’s all about balance!
[Image attributions: Donna Savigni and the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group]