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Amgen Scholars Program: Developing the researchers of tomorrow

“All my friends in the program think I have the best project and I think they’re right!”

Jessica Gonzalez joined the Bionics Institute as part of the prestigious Amgen Scholars Program to gain experience in a laboratory setting whilst completing her Bachelor of Advanced Science at UNSW.

With links to Harvard and Cambridge, the Amgen Scholars Program selects high-achieving undergraduate students from across four continents to undertake an eight week placement at a leading institute or university.

After reading about the Bionics Institute’s research into electric medicine therapies, Jessica applied for a placement with the Preclinical Interface Neuromodulation Team (PINT) under the tutelage of Dr Sophie Payne and Professor James Fallon.

This saw her join the PINT project focused on developing technologies to restore bladder control in patients with urinary incontinence.

This exposure has been incredible. It has given me a taste of research and has made me confident going forward in my studies Ms Jessica Gonzalez

“It was also great to have a strong female role model (Dr Sophie Payne) in science,” Jess said.

Working on the PINT project has provided Jess with opportunities to network and collaborate with researchers across the Bionics Institute, and gain insight into how research is conducted within laboratory and clinical settings.

“I’ve gotten to observe surgeries and I’ve even been able to run experiments independently.”

“The Bionics Institute has also got me involved in the experimentation and analysis sides of investigations, and I’ve been in group meetings to hear about all the projects which has been good exposure.”

Jessica shared details of her placement and research project at the Amgen Scholars Symposium – the culminating event of the program.

Hosted by the University of Melbourne, the virtual Symposium enabled Amgen Scholars to showcase their work and hear from invited industry speakers, including Bionics Institute’s Dr Melissa Louey.

The placement at the Bionics Institute has affirmed Jessica’s academic aspirations.

She plans to continue her studies into an honours year and has ambitions of undertaking Medicine or completing a PhD in the future – specifically in physiology or electrophysiology.

“I would definitely recommend BI to students and I’m so glad I got this project as my first preference.”

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