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University of Melbourne

  • 37% international / 63% domestic

Stephanie Ling Ling Choo

I also liked that the coursework not only focused on laboratory skills but professional development as well.

What did you study at undergraduate and postgraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now (if applicable)? Are you studying and working at the same time?

I graduated from Master of Biomedical Science in 2018 and Bachelor of Science (Physiology major) in 2016. Both were completed in The University of Melbourne. At the time I wasn't working in a paid job and studying most of the time. However, I was a volunteer writer for Farrago in 2016 and handed out newsletters from time to time.

Please list the most important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)

I came from St. Andrews Christian College and decided to try to pursue a career in health sciences, but I didn't have a specific career in mind. So, I chose to study Bachelor of Science from The University of Melbourne, since their bachelor degrees had a broader focus. I went on to study Master of Biomedical Science with the Cardiac Phenomics Laboratory to try to gain skills in scientific research.

How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and for how long have you occupied it (if applicable)?

At the moment, I'm unemployed but I'm actively seeking laboratory assistant and medical scientist positions. I hope to still contribute to the healing of people through science. 

What made you decide to progress with further study?

My Bachelor of Science course was mostly theory based, with some practical classes. Often, science was taught in lectures. In the case of biology, a lot of memorisation was required and I am terrible at memorisation. However, I still wanted to be in the medical industry and biology is required. I wanted to investigate science, as opposed to memorising facts on verbatim. Biomedical research combined all of my motivations, investigating science which may help improve medicine in the future. 

How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

I asked around a few laboratories on or near campus. The University of Melbourne has a number of research labs, Also, it's associated with a number of nearby research institutes like Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. I was tossing up doing scientific research or physiotherapy. However, I was more interested in being a researcher than a clinician. Therefore, I decided to pursue my academic interest in cardiovascular disease research.

What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?

I had to go to a number of 'open days' that research institutes and departments have in around September. I'd flick through the booklet of potential research projects and pick out ones which were the most interesting. Then I e-mailed potential supervisors. Usually, they would offer an initial interview to see why you are interested in working with them. Afterall, a Master of Biomedical Science required working in a laboratory environment. After that, supervisors would invite a short-list of people to visit the laboratory and meet current students and co-workers. This is to see if the candidate could work with existing members of the laboratory. After that, there would be a provisional offer. Providing that you have over 65% WAM average (or equivalent) in your final year bachelor science subjects.

What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)

What happens on a typical day varies depending on which stage of your research project and how many coursework subjects you do. Often, I was running experiments around coursework classes. Sometimes an experiment goes wrong and suddenly your plans have to change. Some days I have to allocate time to meet with supervisors to discuss my progress on a research project. I checked on experimental mice during intervals on some days. Some days I was stuck at my desk reading of literature or writing my research report. The life of a research student is really fluid.   

Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.

Master of Biomedical Science doesn't just prepare you for a career in research, it also trains you in a lot of transferrable skills. It involves working in a workplace environment, where you have to work with co-workers and answer to superiors. A keen eye for detail is required to maintain lab records. Problem-solving is heavily used whenever an experiment goes wrong or has unexpected results. All of these skills are highly valued in almost any workplace. So I asked around a few laboratories on or near campus. I became interested in cardiovascular disease and eventually found Yes, Master of Biomedical Science is a stepping stone to a PhD, and a career in academia, but also to laboratory assistant, medical scientist and a career in scientific industry.

What do you love the most about your course?

I liked being able to investigate science and really focus on an area of interest that nobody else is certain or knows of. Having an opportunity to work with passionate people was great. I also liked that the coursework not only focused on laboratory skills but professional development as well, for example science communication, statistics etc.

What are the limitations of your course?

Often, your experience of research will heavily rely on your relationship with your supervisor. If you and your supervisor cannot effectively work together, you'll most likely not be able to get the help and support you need. Afterall, the supervisor is the one who you'll get most of your 'how to do research' information from. 

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.

  1. Work hard, but have some balance. I've often studied hard but made almost no time for friends and family. Yes, studying is important, but it shouldn't take up your entire life.
  2. Find ways to get rid of distractions. I wished I learnt the function to turn off phone notifications earlier.
  3. Find your way of being productive. Personally, I find doing the important stuff in the morning better than the evening. I'm very easy to distract after around 6p.m. Find what works for you.