“I really enjoy it when the hard work results in a promising answer to a research question.”
Ms Elham Nili is a postgraduate student at the Queensland Eye Institute.
Tell us a little about yourself, i.e. how did you become interested in science?
Since I was in primary school, I always loved my science teachers. When I was at high school, my biology teacher asked us to make a model of the ‘cell’. I filled a disposable clear bowl with a few packs of hair gel, and then put in the cell organelles that I had made with dough. My model won the competition, as the most creative and beautiful cell. I created it with so much joy and love as I was amazed by the structure and function of the cell and its organelles.
What has been your path to your PhD?
Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Tehran, Iran, I decided to give my life a big change by pursuing my postgraduate study in my lifelong passion: cell biology.
I dedicated years to obtaining a strong background in science and learning biological skills through attending biology training courses in Australia and overseas, volunteering in research labs, joining research projects, contributing to research publications, and completing a Certificate IV in laboratory techniques. Eventually, I started my Masters of Biotechnology at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2013 and completed the degree in 2014. Towards the end of my Masters program, I luckily found the opportunity to join the “Visiting Scholars Research Program” at the Queensland Eye Institute (QEI), and subsequently started my PhD at QEI in January 2015. I was also awarded the competitive Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship from QUT.
What drives you and what do you enjoy about your current position?
I have always been astonished with stem cells and their therapeutic functions, so I really love working with my beautiful cells. I really enjoy it when the hard work results in a promising answer to a research question.
What is the achievement you are the most proud of?
The most important achievement for me was changing my path from economics to science. This was very ambitious, and at the beginning looking kind of impossible, but I worked very hard and proved to myself that nothing is impossible!
What has been the most important advice you were ever given?
My supervisor always tells me that perseverance and persistence is the key for success in science. I’m finding it absolutely correct.
What would you like to tell your younger self?
The journey itself is the destination. When you are at a decision point, just listen to your heart and follow your passion.
If you were not working in science, what would you do?
I would have been a TV presenter, of course back home, not here in Australia with English being my second language! I still might do something in that area when I’m back home alongside my research career.