Solving Wonderful Mysteries

By Jessica Baker

Jessica with her parents

I always knew I wanted to do something that would make an impact in the world, and I’ve always loved science. This year I finally saw my years of hard work culminate, and my two passions combine when I started my honours research.

Receiving an AVCAT scholarship was vital in helping me follow my dreams.

In my first year at university, I was awarded the AVCAT RSL National Scholarship. I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biochemistry and French Studies, from the University of Western Australia.

This year I have undertaken an honours year in medical research. Through my studies, I have found a field I am passionate about, and I can see myself working in it for many years.

My honours research project was based in the Mitochondrial Medicine and Biology laboratory at The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth, WA. I have loved the experience and I feel the research I am a part of is making a difference every single day. Our work is fundamental science, discovering unknown protein functions and mechanisms within the mitochondria, which will help improve the knowledge base to one day lead to a cure for (currently incurable) mitochondrial diseases.

I was recently talking to my Grandfather (a RAAF veteran) about my studies and his thoughts on it, and as someone who also studied at UWA in a chemistry field, he said he is very supportive and proud of how far I have come, which means a lot to me.

I’ve loved being in the research field so much, and as I previously said, I can see myself working in this field as a career. To fulfil this goal, I’m now planning on undertaking a PhD over the next few years. I’m going to stay in the Mitochondrial Medicine laboratory and finish off some more work on the project I’ve been doing this year, as well as start my own research as part of a PhD.

Receiving an AVCAT scholarship allowed me to study both my undergraduate and my honours year without additional financial stress, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I don’t think I could have dedicated myself as fully as was necessary to get to where I currently am without the assistance of an AVCAT scholarship. I’m looking forward to the future and all the wonderful mysteries waiting to be solved.

Jessica was awarded the RSL National Scholarship in 2017.

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