Hue Mai La
I am currently undertaking my PhD training at Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, based at Monash University (Clayton). I am fascinated about developmental biology and stem cell biology using adult germline stem cell as a model. As part of my PhD training, I also collaborate with bioinformaticians, from them I understand how important computational biology is to biomedical research due to a rapid advancement in genomic analysis.
Can you give me a quick overview of the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community?
My PhD project aims to understand the molecular mechanism regulating spermatogonial stem cell function using single-cell RNA-sequencing approach. This would involve analyses of large data set and requires knowledge of statistics and programming to extract meaningful information. These information/knowledge provides the basis for subsequent translational studies.
You attended AMSI BioInfoSummer, what drew you to this event? What was the most valuable part of AMSI BioInfoSummer for you in terms of furthering your career in mathematical sciences?
There is strong encouragement for females to pursue study or a career in the mathematical sciences. After attending the conference, I can appreciate a lot more the overall importance of Maths and their applications in multiple areas of my research and future career goals.
Did this event lead to any new projects, collaborations? What were some outcomes in terms of your work?
This was my first time attending AMSI BioInfoSummer and I was really impressed with the quality of the conference. Although there was no formal collaborations made, there were opportunities to talk to and get to know many people in the field of Maths and Stats for potential collaborations.
You received a CHOOSEMATHS Grant to assist your attendance at AMSI BioInfoSummer. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend and fully participate in the sessions throughout the week? How did you hear about the grant?
As a PhD student, the grant was important in financially supporting my attendance at the conference as well providing the opportunity and encouragement to study Maths. I learnt about this grant through the AMSI BioInfoSummer 2018 website
How important are initiatives such as the CHOOSEMATHS Grants in terms of fostering the participation and achievement of women in mathematics, particularly in terms of access to networking opportunities and further training opportunities?
I was very impressed with the initiatives such as the CHOOSEMATHS Grants, because I can see lots of effort being made to encourage female students to study Maths and go onto a career in STEM. One example is CHOOSEMATHS mentors reaching out to teenage girls at high school, to be a role model and show them that females are equal in opportunity to learn and excel in Maths.
The CHOOSEMATHS Grants are part of a broader program being delivered by AMSI Schools with support from the BHP Foundation to turn the tide on Australia’s maths deficit and strengthen maths education and participation of women across the discipline. What do you see as the big challenges facing maths in Australia, particularly for women?
I think there is a lack of great maths teachers at secondary school in the Australian system. This can be a major issue if teachers cannot pass on their passion and interest in Maths to students. In addition is the general lack of confident in female students, thinking that Maths is only for males. Lastly, I think that would be the social stigma that males always achieve better in STEM so they should do Maths and females are not.
Did you learn about new career options available to you that you were not aware of prior to attending AMSI BioInfoSummer?
Yes, I did. I learnt that many careers require Maths and the job title can come in different names.
If a peer asked you if they should attend AMSI BioInfoSummer, how would you describe the conference to them?
AMSI BioInfoSummer offers a great variety of seminars, inspirational talks and workshops covered by experts in the field. It was a great opportunity to learn and network with potential collaborators. I would highly recommend this conference to my fellow colleagues.