From conducting ground-breaking research on the formation of life to being awarded scholarships and winning public speaking awards, Rainie continues to harness opportunities for international students at UQ.
With its relaxed lifestyle and incredible weather, Rainie was drawn to Brisbane, not only as a destination to study but to live and thrive.
“The sunny days just put you in a much better mood and this is definitely reflected in how warm-hearted people in Brisbane are,” she shares.
Adjusting to a new culture can be challenging, but Rainie pushed her boundaries and immersed herself in the experience. She now considers Brisbane her second home.
“I love that there are always new things to do, like new markets, cafés, festivals, and extra-curricular activities organised by UQ, Brisbane’s local councils and various societies…It is easy to make an instant connection in Brisbane’s friendly and vibrant environment,” says Rainie.
While she has always had a keen interest in human anatomy, Rainie had never considered pursuing a career in research until she began her studies at UQ. In her first year, she was inspired by the lecturers and their hands-on approach to teaching.
“They not only taught the concepts well but always touched on their own and others’ real-time research,” Rainie explains. “They were super friendly and encouraging to students on a personal level as well, inviting us to have coffees with them like friends.”
Summer Research Scholarship
With this practical advice and encouragement, Rainie grew confident enough to make her own contribution to the field of research. In her second year of study, she was awarded UQ’s Summer Research Scholarship and joined the Queensland Brain Institute, a leading neuroscience research institute.
The Summer Research Scholarship aims to instill valuable academic and professional skills into participating scholars, while also providing networking opportunities. With this scholarship, you gain access to world class facilities and experiences, and in turn, enhance your skills and employability.
For Rainie, having the opportunity to apply her learnings in a real lab alongside hundreds of other researchers marked a milestone in her study journey.
“I still can’t believe how I was able to be immersed in real-world research at such a young age while getting paid to learn techniques, attend conferences and publish papers,” she shares.
Doctor of Philosophy
Currently in the midst of her PhD, Rainie busies herself exploring the mystery of the formation of life and why it so often goes wrong in the crucial early stages of cell division. Using time-lapse imaging to watch the cell division process, she hopes this research will help increase the success rate of IVF treatment.
“Why is life so hard from the very beginning?” Rainie queries. “Knowing the answer will not only make IVF treatment for couples experiencing infertility more successful but also give every human being an important insight into how precious it is to be alive.”
One of Rainie’s personal goals during her time here was to strengthen her confidence and English skills. To say she fulfilled this would be an understatement. According to Rainie, when she arrived in Australia, she was “too scared to even pick up a phone call because [she] couldn’t keep up with understanding the English.” Fast forward to 2022, Rainie has just won first place in a PhD public speaking competition called The Three Minute Thesis (3MT).
3MT was originally founded at UQ and is now held at 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide. The program challenges PhD researchers to effectively share their research in three minutes, in language that is digestible to a non-specialist audience.
“I’ve certainly gained lots of valuable feedback, communication skills and confidence through the rounds of competition,” Rainie explains. “It started out pretty rough as no one is born a natural speaker, let alone someone with English as a second language! But all the storytelling workshops, learning from past winners, trial and error, and endless practice paid off in the end.”
The pathway to a dream job
When Rainie completes her PhD, she hopes to “wear multiple hats” by working in both academic and empirical environments.
“Helping patients complete families in an IVF clinic and finding out new things through research sound equally rewarding,” she shares. “So, my dream job would be an academic embryologist who can do both. I think my love for embryos will keep me in this exciting space for longer, but I am confident that the transferrable skills I gained are helpful in any industry.”
Rainie’s advice to international students
“My advice is to step out of your comfort zone and take on new opportunities as soon as
possible. Once you take that first step forward, the growth will be unstoppable,” Rainie says. “I really think the diversity of extra-curricular programs was crucial for me getting this far because they all teach you different skills. Through undergraduate research programs, I got a taste of research very early on.”
“UQ also has many entrepreneurial programs that encourage startup ideas, internships, pitching, and collaborations. For business students, this would be undoubtedly useful. But even for STEM students like me, I now have an entrepreneurial mindset and good communication skills that really transformed my confidence. So, take a look at the breadth of programs available outside classes because it is in these unique opportunities you get unexpected growth and connections that could broaden your career perspective massively.”