Science was never part of Alana’s long-term picture, but when she got the chance, she realised she loved being in the lab, learning new techniques and testing theories. Alana’s PhD aims to understand how leukaemia cells use fats as their energy source, so treatments can be designed to starve the cancer cells, while not affecting normal cells. With exciting implications for leukaemia patients, she also hopes that any discoveries can help researchers working on other types of cancer.
Her daily life now is not what she imagined she’d be doing when she finished high school. “After leaving school I worked, I travelled, I tried to figure out what I wanted to do. Science was not at the front of my mind at all. I kept an eye on various courses over the years and when I saw the Medical Science degree, I was drawn to the range of topics I could try”. Alana found the course accommodated students with no previous science knowledge, and as she went further, the more excited she became. A cancer cell biology lab placement in her third year was a pivotal experience. “I loved being in the lab, even if it was frustrating when experiments didn’t go as planned, it was the work I wanted to be doing”.
Receiving the Postgraduate Oral Presentation Award at the 2021 ASMR scientific conference in the first year of her PhD candidature was a tremendous achievement and fuelled her motivation. This was also where she realised her passion for scientific communication, which has since become a career aspiration for the now third-year PhD student. “I love the opportunities and challenges that come from presenting your research to audiences with different levels of scientific knowledge. Science should be accessible and understandable to all!”