The 6th EMBL Australia PhD Course

24 June - 5 July 2019

EMBL Australia's annual PhD Course is modelled on the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) two- week pre-doc training program.   

EMBL Australia recently held its highly popular and successful PhD course in Hobart at the University of Tasmania.  This year, a record number of students applied, and 60 of Australia’s top PhD students were selected to participate.  It covered a wide range of topics - from epigenetics and bioinformatics to translational and clinical sciences, and exposed students to the latest ideas in molecular biology.

The program included practical workshops covering basic R-programming, bioinformatics, data-driven subgrouping, genetics, molecular biology and imaging techniques.  Students participated in a Tasmanian devil themed session on one day, which included one of the highlights of the course - a visit to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  Students also spent one day visiting the Australian Antarctic Division and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, where they drove snow rovers that were gearing up for expeditions and participated in a virtual reality tour of penguin colonies. 

Students listen to a workshop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

“The students really enjoyed the experience.  It’s been a great way for them to network with other students, learn about different areas of research and the career paths of senior researchers,” said Assoc Prof Ville-Petteri Mäkinen who is an EMBL Australia Group Leader at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and was also on the 2019 PhD Course Organising Committee.

All students presented their research in three-minute thesis presentations and participated in a poster session.  Mary Mandsilla was awarded first place for her poster, and Frank Olivier won first prize in the three- minute thesis competition.

Winners: Mary Mansilla won the poster prize and Frank Olivier won the three-minute thesis competition.

“This course was an incredible academic experience. I’m truly inspired by all the research that is being conducted around me.  The connections and networks that we have all built at this course will no doubt support future collaborations with each other, foster friendships and peer support with each other,” said participant Kay Myo Min.  

“We arrived as 60 PhDs scattered across Australia, and left as an inspired community of young researchers,” said Frank Olivier.

Two very interesting and informative panel discussions with Q&A sessions were held on genetics and society, and also integrity and ethics.  Students attended a science communication workshop, where they used a pen and paper to draw their research -   a first for most students.     

“It was fantastic to work with the local Tasmanian organisers from the University of Tasmania and to bring together enthusiastic students and distinguished speakers from all over the country. Indeed, the course program was an amazing cross-section of the top molecular sciences in Australia”, said Assoc Prof Ville-Petteri Mäkinen.

Isabelle Capell-Hattam was a participating student who wrote a blog post on her experience:

'There is not a single better way I could have spent these two weeks of my PhD and I would 110% recommend ALL eligible PhD candidates apply for the future EMBL Australia PhD course- you will not be disappointed!'

Read the full blog post here.

Thanks to the 2019 PhD Course Organising Committee:

Pirjo Apaja, Michelle Boyle, Lisa Foa, Nadya Glebova, Kana Gudan, Lydia Kokotos, Ville-Petteri Mäkinen, Tanya Rogers, Phillippa Taberlay, Antoine van Oijen, Coral Warr.

The student participants of the 2019 PhD Course
Students attended a workshop by EMBL Australia Group Leader, Assoc Prof Ville-Petteri Mäkinen.