Harriet Manley, mentee in the 2017 MedTech-Pharma program in VIC (Monash University) [Image: ARMI]

“I’ve met some truly inspirational and interesting people, which has provided me not only with some very memorable conversations, but also with some invaluable networks that I can continue to nurture in years to come.”

In 2015, Harriet Manley completed a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with first class Honours at Monash University, majoring in molecular biology and microbiology. During her undergraduate degree, she became involved in the Bio21 Cluster’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which led to her completing a year-long undergraduate project then Honours year with Professor Graham Lieschke’s group, at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) in Melbourne. This took her interests in biochemistry into the exciting world of zebrafish and microscopy, where she stayed to begin her PhD in 2016.

Her PhD research specialises in in vivo microscopy, with a focus on immune cell dynamics. By capturing high-resolution movies of immune cells moving in the transparent zebrafish, she hopes to uncover new mechanisms for cell migration. In layman’s terms, by looking at the movement of white blood cells, our body’s natural first line of defence, we can work towards the ultimate therapeutic aim of improving how these cells can move to and from injuries or infections. This has been a highly challenging but rewarding PhD project, and utilises some of the most cutting-edge imaging technology, with collaborations both in Australia and abroad.

In addition to her PhD research, she is passionate about science communication, diversity in STEMM, and increasing the crosstalk of academia and industry to improve the translation of research discoveries to therapies. These interests are most evident in her involvement in ARMI and Monash University outreach programs, including her role as one of ARMI’s Social Media Ambassadors.

Harriet Manley was a participant in the 2017 IMNIS program in Victoria, with her mentor Philip Doyle from KPMG.

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

I participated in the IMNIS program because I was craving additional information and perspectives about my prospects and possible directions after my PhD, and was having difficulty finding these in the academic university environment. I was also looking to improve my networking skills, and learn more about how the biomed/medtech sector works and what makes industry tick.

How often did you meet with your mentor and did you prepare for these meetings? What was the best piece of advice you received? What was the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

My mentor was Philip Doyle from KPMG Australia, who works at the interface of government and industry to help grow innovation and research, through a number of different grant schemes and incentives. I met with him approximately once a month, and would sometimes prepare little ‘homework’ exercises ready to discuss for the meeting e.g. “research and identify 5 companies whose ideas or products resonate with you.”. Other times, we would just informally catch up on how I was going with my PhD project, and this led to broad discussions about tools to approach high workloads, people management, prioritisation etc.

What I most appreciated about this was my mentor’s willingness to listen to my day to day research challenges, providing a different perspective and often invaluable suggestions, and also my mentor’s genuine investment in my career trajectory. I think the best piece of advice that my mentor gave me is to sell yourself, and to not under-value yourself. This applies to the typical job interview situation, but also more widely to networking situations – where you need to make an impression and connection in a pretty short amount of time!

Would you recommend participating in the IMNIS program to your peers?

I would highly recommend the program for all PhD students, the opportunity for mentorship is a wonderful one and can only help build your skills and networks.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you?

By completing the IMNIS program, I feel like I have gained confidence in myself, and have a new appreciation for the transferable skills that my PhD has given me. The program has also opened my eyes to the biomedical and innovation community that is growing in Melbourne. I’ve met some truly inspirational and interesting people, which has provided me not only with some very memorable conversations, but also with some invaluable networks that I can continue to nurture in years to come.

Did you achieve what you originally aimed to achieve in your mentoring journey?

I went into the IMNIS program mainly hoping to learn more about what lay beyond the academia ‘bubble’ and to expand my networks. I think these are things that I have definitely achieved. I now have a much broader outlook for what my career may look like after PhD. I am really excited and enthusiastic about the many different paths I could explore not just immediately after PhD, but also further into the future – considering my career as much more fluid and full of opportunity than perhaps I did before!

How did IMNIS help you get to where you are now? Do you feel more confident? Have you gained new skills?

Since completion of IMNIS, I have cemented my immediate plans post-PhD, and also used the encouragement of my mentor to involve myself in many more activities outside the typical realms of PhD research – mainly science communication and outreach. Most recently, under the guidance of Michelle Gallaher (another IMNIS mentor) and the team at The Social Science, I have become one of ARMI’s Social Media Ambassadors. This ambassadorship actively advocates the use of the social media to facilitate academic research, but also as a means of connecting academic research circles to the broader community – expanding industry links and increasing public understanding and involvement in science.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/harriet-manley

Twitter: @harrietm11