Hitting the ground running

29 Sep 2015


Wanida Phetsang has devoted most of her young adult life to the world of academia and scientific research.

But after almost a decade of intense study in the fields of chemistry and biology, the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) PhD student was eager to transfer her skills and knowledge into the business world.

She jumped at the chance to apply for a placement with technical solutions company 3M, where she has been using her knowledge to help in the development of healthcare products at the company’s research and development centre in Bangkok.

“I was really keen to gain more experience in industry because before the placement I had only been exposed to an academic environment,” says Ms Phetsang.

“I was curious about how I could use my research skills from university and apply them to industry.”

Ms Phetsang gained her Bachelor of Chemistry degree at Thailand’s Prince of Songkla University in 2009 before going on to complete her masters degree in Organic Chemistry at Mahidol University in 2012.

A desire to combine her love of chemistry and biology led her to UQ in 2013, where she began her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry, working in Professor Matt Cooper's lab at IMB.

3M has partnered with UQ to provide a 12-month scholarship for up to three research students with a background in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field. As part of the scholarship, PhD students are required to spend up to three months working in a 3M research and development facility within the Asia Pacific region.

This program is designed to provide students with a learning experience that enhances their graduate attributes and transferable skills, and increases their employability.

Ms Phetsang said her time with 3M in Thailand not only enhanced her research skills, but also improved her teamwork skills.

“In a team we have experts in different fields but by having a variety of skills we can use our knowledge to help others and keep the project moving,” she says. “Cross-functional working is important because every project needs collaboration from different departments.”

Since returning to the laboratories at IMB, Ms Phetsang says the placement with 3M has been instrumental in her career development and has opened her eyes to many opportunities.

“I am now better connected to people in industry and I also have a better idea about how I can apply my academic research skills to industrial research.”

But she says she also saw how research students could benefit industry with new ideas.

“Research students at UQ are exposed to multidisciplinary projects that enable students to generate ideas that are not narrowed to only one field,” says Ms Phetsang.

“Students with strong research and transferable research skills could help organisations fill gaps and strengthen their position in their industry. I would love a career where I can spend my time developing something new, something that is useful for humankind.”

Help support IMB's rising research stars by donating to our student scholarships' fund.

Source: UQ ChangeMakers Magazine