La Trobe PhD student Jaclyn Swan has won a coveted spot in the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Mentoring Scheme.
One of just four mentees chosen in Australia, Jaclyn will be paired with a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow over a six-month period.
Launched in 2017, the scheme empowers budding female scientists to achieve career success while building on their knowledge and skills with support from exceptional female researchers, communicators and leaders in science.
Jaclyn said she felt shocked and overwhelmed by her selection, given the limited number of places in the mentoring scheme.
“I did not expect it at all,” Jaclyn said.
“I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity to learn from such inspirational women.”
Jaclyn’s research aims to aid the development of future vaccines for parasites such as Fasciola hepatica – also known as liver fluke – which is a parasite that commonly infects the livers of mammals, including humans.
Jaclyn said her PhD project focuses on the glycoproteins of the parasite, which assist in the function of protein folding, cell to cell communication, antibody function and pathogen recognition.
“People have been working on making a vaccine against Fasciola hepatica for many decades, however, no vaccine candidates have produced a high enough efficacy to date,” Jaclyn said.
“I am trying to better understand the glycosylation of these parasite proteins to aid vaccine design.”
Jaclyn said her interest in animal science can be traced back to her days growing up on a hobby farm near the Dandenong Ranges.
“For me, pursuing a career in STEMM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine] was a no-brainer,” Jaclyn said.
“Throughout primary school I always loved science. I entered the science talent search every year, always with a biology theme.
She would like to encourage more women and girls to pursue a career in STEMM.
“It is so exciting,” Jaclyn said.
“You get to discover things that no one else knows yet. You have the ability to make a difference.”
Jaclyn graduated with a Bachelor of Bioscience with an Honours in Animal Science at La Trobe before starting her PhD.