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What it takes to be a biomedical scientist

Anna (Year 9) reflects on a recent online incursion with researchers from the University of Melbourne.

A biomedical scientist’s work is demanding yet rewarding. This is one of the lessons I learnt from The University of Melbourne’s “Meet a Biomedical Scientist” incursion.

On Friday 21 August, around 40 girls from Year 9 had the opportunity to meet a biomedical scientist from The University of Melbourne through Zoom. Twenty girls attended the event during the first sessions and 20 girls attended during the second session. Each group was able to ask questions and we were even given a mini tour of the biomedical research lab and offices at the university!

When you think of a biomedical scientist, you think of experiments and crazy lab equipment. You don’t think about the long waiting or incubation hours. The hours spent on scientific essays are also something that doesn’t immediately come to mind. I had certainly learnt many new things from this incursion and was intrigued by everything I heard and saw. I discovered that biomedical scientists have to spend a large portion of their working hours writing up essays describing their projects and findings. Surprisingly, it usually takes more than a couple of weeks for these essays to be published in scientific journals. Sometimes, the process takes months or even a year.

Furthermore, we learnt that failure is a frustrating yet important part of being a scientist. When something goes wrong, you just have to accept it and try again. I actually wasn’t expecting to hear that being a biomedical scientist would teach you a lot about resilience.

I was also intrigued when I heard that the other most difficult part of being a biomedical scientist is learning to let go. Sometimes being so deep into a project, you just want to find out all the answers. However, often being a biomedical scientist means discovering the things that society needs to know and letting go of the rest, because one person cannot find all the answers, but all the world’s scientists working together can. Thus, letting go and trusting other scientists to find the other answers is sometimes a crucial part of the occupation.

Moreover, The University of Melbourne Biomedical Research Lab has helped with COVID-19 research. One of the projects that has not yet been published was one testing the effect different dilutions of household products (bleach, detergent, vinegar, alcohol) have on the COVID-19 virus.

This amazing incursion is definitely something I will remember, and it has definitely furthered my interest in Science and scientific research.

Anna (Year 9)