Gut Instinct: Mayan Amiezer joins Real Scientists

Scientists can end up in science through circuitous routes. Some always knew they wanted to be scientists, others had an inspirational teacher who guided them 8b61a497-ed46-470f-bd8a-4aae9a70f5a7or piqued their interest in science and some end up in science after pursuing other careers.

Our next curator, PhD student Mayan Amiezer (@MayanAp0calypse), took the less straightforward path into science, having started out in office administration. After migrating from Israel to Australia, Mayan ended up as a researcher at the department of immunology at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia.

Mayan’s story is compelling and unique, and we’re delighted to meet her, and have her host Real Scientists. Here’s her story.

 

I am originally from Israel where I worked in film distribution and festival logistics. After I moved to Australia in 2006, I worked as a secretary in local government. At council, I learned a lot about sustainability and event management with a dash of expanding my limited knowledge of Australian political history. So, how did I end up in Science? I loved my boss and the job had wonderful perks, mainly, permanency, but, being a sucker for punishment, I gave all that away because I wanted to do more with my life. I decided to set out on an actual career path which I felt I would give my life meaning. Also, I needed a bigger challenge than what the secretarial role offered and I figured that medical research would be a field that will always keep me on my toes and one where learning will never cease.

 

 

7936293a-72b9-4e43-b6cd-bf2f52d626d1So, at 26, I went back to uni full time to study medical science at UNSW. I was very lucky to have had a passionate lecturer for histology and I fell absolutely in love. I almost failed the actual exam but that’s a story for another day. Throughout honours and the undergrad I worked as a bartender. At the worst of it all, I was in the lab 7 days, (investigating T cell membrane dynamics using microscopes) and at the pub, working, 4-5 nights a week. Good times.

 

Throughout my life I have also always volunteered in some form or another, I first volunteered at a GLTBQ community centre in Jerusalem. Later, in Australia, I was a member of the dykes on bikes committee. During university, I volunteered at the museum of human disease, teaching high school kids about human pathology!

 

But, the highlight of my volunteer work happened just a few weeks ago, when I combined my various admin and event management skills with my pub hospitality work and became the national director of Pint of Science.

Pint of Science is an annual global festival that celebrates science by sending scientists to local pubs to give talks to the general public. We sold out most nights in the various cities we were in Australia, it was so amazing to see so much love for science. As the national director, I coordinated over 100 volunteers and oversaw over 100 speakers which gave talks at the festival to more than 2500 people. It was a hoot and I learned so much from the experience and I got to meet so many wonderful people.

Throughout my life I have also always volunteered in some form or another, I first volunteered at a GLTBQ community centre in Jerusalem. Later, in Australia, I was a member of the dykes on bikes committee. During university, I volunteered at the museum of human disease, teaching high school kids about human pathology! 

But, the highlight of my volunteer work happened just a few weeks ago, when I combined my various admin and event management skills with my pub 62353e77-f199-408e-b92a-1e278c977d63hospitality work and became the national director of Pint of Science.

Pint of Science is an annual global festival that celebrates science by sending scientists to local pubs to give talks to the general public. We sold out most nights in the various cities we were in Australia, it was so amazing to see so much love for science. As the national director, I coordinated over 100 volunteers and oversaw over 100 speakers which gave talks at the festival to more than 2500 people. It was a hoot and I learned so much from the experience and I got to meet so many wonderful people.

Why did I choose my current field and what keeps me there? Soon after I started my undergrad I became more and more aware of people that were living with Multiple Sclerosis and I became very interested in how our nutrition contributes to our neuro-immunity. One of the things patients are told to do when first diagnosed is to change their diet. I am not an MS researcher (yet) but I hope to one day combine my different skills and become one. I investigate the immune cells that reside in the gut. In particular IgA secreting plasma cells. We use conventional molecular biology methods and most excitingly we use intravital microscopy to look at the interactions that these cells have in real time. All pretty awesome stuff! The gut is a fascinating organ and we don’t know a lot about how the immune system that resides in the gut. Discovering more about these unique sites could help us gain insight into digestive diseases, cancers and potentially drive development of new oral vaccines. Beyond why this research is beneficial and exciting, it is also visually captivating.

I love science for so many reasons but probably more than anything I love science because I love art and I am really looking forward to sharing the artistic element that good science has (I am talking pictures and movies here) because we all know that a good 1000 word story should really start with a nice picture…
Ideal Day Off? Perfect weather, early rise to go kayaking in one of NSW many beautiful reserves / national parks with creeks or rivers (there are so many!). When all the gear has been packed away, a chance to relax with my partner and rescued dogs, watching sci-fi / comedy on Netflix.

Please welcome Mayan to Real Scientists!

 

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