Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera is a globally acknowledged pioneer in salivary diagnostics. She leads a world-class research laboratory in Australia, the Saliva Translational Research (STaR) laboratory within the Queensland University of Technology. Her team of over 12 researchers focuses on developing novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for cardiovascular diseases, head and neck cancers and linking oral health to systemic diseases. Her team collaborates closely with dentists, oral medicine specialist, surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists and large pharmaceutical companies in translating the team’s research findings into real world applications. She currently holds the positions of Group Leader within the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology; Adjunct A/Professor at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Consult to Oasis Diagnostics®, Vancouver, USA and FLUIDS iQ™, Montreal, Canada.
SS: Chamindie , how did you get to your current position?
CP: I moved from Netherlands to Australia in 2008 and I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at UQ. In 2010, I was awarded with a prestigious Smart State Fellowship and I started my research group.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
CP: I have always had a very inquisitive mind and I always use to question and ask why? I remember my mother telling me that she was fed-up with me as I was growing up simply because my questioning mind never stopped. My mother is a primary school teacher and she inspired me to become a Scientist.
SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
CP: When experiments work in the lab and when I get research funding.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?
CP: I was approached by my Director, Prof Lyn Griffiths to apply. I was not aware of this event at that time. I am loving every moment of being part of it and I am so grateful for the opportunity to educate the public of our research activities.
SS: Sum up in one word your expectations for the day – excitement? Fear? Thrill? Anticipation?
CP: I am so excited to share our research activities and to attract young Scientists.
SS: If you could change one thing about the scientific culture right now, what would it be?
CP: Fair go for women Scientist and an environment that cultivates gender equity and diversity
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a female PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
CP: When you start your PhD it feels like a long winding journey. Rest assured hard work and dedication will make sure that you see light at the end of the tunnel.