How to be a young scientist

How to be a young scientist

La Trobe graduate Dr Georgia Atkin-Smith’s mentor – her biochemistry teacher, Professor Mark Hulett – is no stranger to pioneering research.

La Trobe graduate Dr Georgia Atkin-Smith reunites with her biochemistry teacher, Professor Mark Hulett.

In 1998, Professor Hulett joined the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra where he performed ground-breaking research by cloning a key enzyme in cell invasion, heparinase. He went on to establish the cancer and molecular immunology laboratory within the school to study cell invasion during inflammation, tumour metastasis and angiogenesis.

In 2008, he moved his lab to La Trobe University to continue his research in inflammatory disease and tumour progression and take on the role of Head of Department, Biochemistry and Genetics. It was here that he recognised a brilliant young talent in Georgia.

Few scientists in their twenties can claim to have ‘paradigm-shifting’ projects, but that’s how Professor Hulett describes it. Her research into how cell death occurs could change the face of blood cancer treatment.

It was during her time at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) that Georgia began her investigation into cell death – research guided and supported by Professor Hulett.

Georgia credits their collaboration as helping her grow into the leading cell biologist she is today.

“Mentorship is one of the sole contributors to why I am now more confident,” Georgia says. “You build up that confidence and really unleash the leader that is within you.”

When they reunited this year, Professor Hulett was visibly humbled by his protegee’s words. “Georgia’s achievements have been exceptional for someone at her early career stage,” he says proudly. “For someone at her level, she’s really leading the way.”

Meet more inspiring mentors at La Trobe.