Tell us a little bit about your research
I investigate optical biosensor systems. My research identified limitations in the methods for reading current interferometric optical biosensors and introduced new methods overcoming these limitations. These findings enable biosensors to be sensitive and precise but also stable and easy to use, advancing practical point-of-care diagnostics harnessing micro-chips. You can read more about my work in my LinkedIn article.
What was your career pathway in getting where you are today?
After I finished high school in Germany, I studied Electrical Engineering with a major in electronics at a cooperative University in Germany and received my bachelor’s degree in 2013. During this time, I continually alternated between 3 months of studying and 3 months of working in industry, developing electronics for measuring equipment. Following this, I studied Electrical Engineering and Information Technology with a major in sensor systems technology and I received my master’s degree in 2015.
Just a few weeks after my thesis defence I came to RMIT as a research intern through the Australian-German Study Centre for Optofluidics and Nanophotonics and in 2016 I started my PhD candidature with InPAC.
What has been the biggest challenge in your PhD so far?
Learning to deal with failure. If everything would work right away, one wouldn’t learn anything. I had to learn that failing experiments are an opportunity to gain insight and further advance one’s understanding and knowledge.
What has been your biggest achievement in your PhD so far?
On a technical level, the invention of the optical frequency comb based readout system for photonic biosensors, which was well received by the scientific community and I’ve received recognition for. On a personal level, the way I think, analyse and communicate.
Why did you choose to do your PhD at InPAC?
A combination of curiosity and opportunity. I came to RMIT as a research intern right after my master’s and I really enjoyed my time at InPAC due to the collegiality and diversity of the team. I was curious about research and up for a challenge, so I decided to apply for the PhD program. After I was offered a full scholarship and a fee-waiver I decided to stay, as I now had the means to undertake this challenge.
What advice would you give to other PhD students?
For prospective students thinking about doing a PhD, make sure you choose a research group which is supportive and has a good team. Don’t just focus on the topic of your research. For current students, reach out to other students and network. Don’t just focus on your own work and stay in a ‘bubble’.