Sebastian Quezada, PhD student and IMNIS Mentee in the 2017 MedTech-Pharma program – Monash University (VIC) [Image: Samuel Ponce Photography]

“The most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program was finding out my “true scientific nature”; my professional quintessence”

My name is Sebastian Quezada, and I am a Biotechnology Engineer studying a translational science PhD at Monash University. Currently I am a part of the IMNIS MedTech-Pharma program in Victoria. I first started working in designing and testing a vaccine for veterinary purposes as part of my Master of Science degree, and then moved into Biomedicine research focusing on the lung during oxygen deprivation. To further develop my career, I accepted the opportunity to come to Australia to undertake my PhD in biomedical sciences, focusing on brain development during pregnancy. Ever since the beginning, I discovered how stimulating innovation and invention can be, and I think it is even more so in science and technology. Thinking about how to design and implement new ways to solve problems is where I have the most fun. I believe there is always a better and more efficient way to do things, and an innovative solution for nearly any problem. After completing my PhD, I plan to explore the opportunities of collaborative innovation in science and technology on a local, national, and international level.

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

I participated in the Victoria IMNIS Tech-Pharma because it represented a good opportunity for me to explore the industry sector here in Australia. I always wondered in which ways R+D in the industry was different from Academia in a country I only arrived three years ago, and getting in contact with people inside the industry was the perfect opportunity to get in touch with a sector I’m hoping to come back to again after finishing my PhD studies.

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?

Emma and I met once a month, and after every meeting there was something I had to work on, like my resume, my pitching, my personal development plan, etc, so preparing for each meeting was a mixture of getting my homework done, thinking of the next steps that we discussed in our previous meetings and where did I wanted to go from there on. The most important aspect of my professional relationship with Emma was the nurturing environment in which the meetings were held, which allowed me, thanks to her infinite patience, to discover my personal way instead of just being shown one out of many.

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

Absolutely! This was a really valuable experience for me in discovering which way I’d like to go professionally once my PhD is finished. I think everyone could benefit from the kind of environment and networking opportunities that the IMNIS program represents. I just hope everyone gets as lucky as me with their mentors, as the mentor-mentee relationship and constant catch-ups are essential, in my opinion, to get the best out of the program.

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

Probably the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program was finding out my “true scientific nature”; my professional quintessence. I was finally able to understand how my personality and my working skills can totally define me as a professional and aim for a position that is both challenging and fulfilling, and will allow me to stay motivated on a daily basis to give Australia the best of my abilities and knowledge.

Did IMNIS help you get to where you are now?

The IMNIS program helped me gain the vision I now have about how should I engage with science, my career and my working environment, and I’m sure the program will continue to be useful once I finish my PhD through the connections and acquaintances I made during it. Getting to know so many people in the industry and getting feedback from them is an invaluable experience that will surely impact positively the rest of my career.