Postgraduate studies at ARMI can open up a number of potential career pathways. With the Institute’s strong focus on deepening ties with both the local and global biotechnology industry, it is no surprise that we find ARMI alumni scattered across the world, working in organisations and companies that vary in size, research field, and role in the discovery and translation pipeline. One such ARMI alumna is Dr Harriet Manley, who is currently a Patent Scientist (Trainee Patent Attorney) in biotechnology at FPA Patent Attorneys in Melbourne.
Harriet joined ARMI during the third year of her undergraduate degree, continued studying at ARMI until she finished her PhD, then was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for a short period. “I would say I essentially became a scientist at ARMI,” said Harriet, “ARMI helped me to develop myself as a scientist, not just from a technical side, but also in developing the creative thought processes of how to take a hypothesis and design experiments to find an answer. It was challenging, but extremely rewarding, too.”
As a curious person, Harriet has always been open minded about what she would study and do in the future. “I participated in and went to a lot of events and mentoring programs during my time at ARMI to get exposure to different ideas and pathways. Listening to people talking about their bright scientific ideas and turning them into commercial products really sparked an interest.”
For her, it was the translation of innovative technology and a multidisciplinary approach to biomedical research in the form of patent law that piqued her interest most. “As a patent attorney, clients come to us with their ideas for inventions in the biotechnology space, such as a new drug or therapy, and we advise them on how to best protect that idea in a legal sense along its commercial trajectory. It is actually a perfect spot for me because we are always talking about new ideas and being a part of the commercialisation pipeline really excites me.” Harriet continued, “ARMI prepared me to develop crucial expertise and knowledge for this current role, as well as provided me exposure to lots of different, fundamental science that underpins new and innovative therapies.”
To that end, Harriet is undertaking a Masters course in Intellectual Property Law part-time to become a registered patent attorney. She comments, “It is a very steep learning curve as it is a new space for me, but I think everything that I have done up to this point prepared me well to go into something that was challenging.”
When it comes to Harriet’s time at ARMI, Harriet smiled, “I was there for a very long time, it is hard to say what I enjoyed the most in a nutshell, but I really genuinely enjoyed the people I worked with. Everyone was enthusiastic about their projects, and was thinking about their scientific questions in very interesting ways, which made ARMI an inspiring place to be.”
The biggest piece of advice Harriet had for ARMI students? “Follow your interests. Even if I’d tried to plan out my whole future to get to this point, I’m not sure it would have happened the way I thought it was going to happen. I really just followed the subjects and science I was interested in because if you are really interested in something, that is what you will do best at.”