In the first in a series of three posts on emerging researchers, we profile Amelia Parker whose PhD research explored cell skeletons and their roles in cancer

At Children’s Cancer Institute, we’re committed to fostering the next generation of childhood cancer research leaders who will help us get closer to one day curing every child. Through providing state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, a supportive research environment and established research leaders as mentors, we are committed to building the pipeline of our emerging research talent and ensuring the continued research excellence of our Institute.

In 2016, former summer-student Amelia Parker completed her UNSW PhD in our Tumour Biology and Targeting Program, led by Professor Maria Kavallaris. Her research into cell skeletons (cytoskeletons) and their complex roles in cancer focussed on a protein called βIII tubulin found in high levels in cancer cells. Now officially Dr Parker, Amelia said she wouldn’t have believed how much she’d learn in four years at Children’s Cancer Institute.

PhD highlights

A/Prof John McGhee (UNSW) with Dr Amelia Parker in 3D Visualisation Lab using virtual reality to explore cancer cells
A/Prof John McGhee (UNSW) with Dr Amelia Parker using virtual reality to explore cancer cells

Highlights included publishing journal papers, doing science outreach, exploring cancers cells using virtual reality, and presenting her research to Nobel laureates alongside the world’s best PhD students. Amelia has enjoyed working in an environment where everyone is committed to delivering world-class translational research, and received lots of support from research mentors, support staff and fellow PhD students.

“Going into a PhD, you’re looking to learn a lot – something I did over and above what I was expecting. It’s very rewarding”

“As a student, you have to learn how to discuss and defend your ideas to people who’ve been doing research for decades. It can be daunting starting out but, with their help, you learn skills and gain confidence. It’s a nice feeling to think you can stand on your own two feet.”

“That’s why you’re doing the job – to improve the lives of kids with cancer.”

Dr Amelia Parker working in the lab

Like most science PhD graduates, Amelia’s excited about heading overseas for a postdoctoral fellowship, an almost-essential step in what is a global career. Starting in the next few weeks, she’ll work in Dr Curtis C. Harris’s lab at the US National Cancer Institute. Where does Amelia see herself in 20 years?

“Hopefully out of a job because childhood cancer will be cured. That’s why you’re doing the job – to improve the lives of kids with cancer.”

See how, like Amelia, you can study with us at Children’s Cancer Institute. For more information, email our Careers and Strategy Manager, Dr Amanda Philp.



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