Ralph PatrickAn honours year project at UQ and a fascination with the field of bioinformatics inspired Ralph Patrick to continue his research by undertaking a PhD.

“I did an honours project under Associate Professor Mikael Boden, and was keen to continue on doing a PhD project with him as well,” Mr Patrick said.

“I enjoy being in the field of bioinformatics, where you get to be at the intersection of biology and computer science.

“What attracted me to pursuing bioinformatics, was that in some ways it’s the best of both the worlds.

“You get to do computer science on some really interesting biological problems and data, and of course you’re pursuing research in biology, but without actually working in the wet-lab.”

Mr Patrick said that particularly in genetics at the moment, the technological developments are allowing for huge amounts of new and exciting data to be generated.

“Bioinformatics plays a critical role in the development of methods for analysing such data,” he said.

Besides benefitting by being at the forefront of bioinformatics research, Mr Patrick was also presented with several opportunities to travel during his PhD studies – an experience that he enjoyed tremendously.

“One highlight in particular was being able to present my PhD research at the 2014 European Conference on Computational Biology in Strasbourg, France,” he said.

“Also in relation to travel, I received a graduate school international travel award, which allowed me to visit a bioinformatics lab in Munich, Germany.”

Mr Patrick found that presenting his work in different conference venues forced him to sharpen the questions he was asking, and how he presented his research.

“And of course, that’s in addition to being able to hear about all the other interesting projects that other people are working on,” he said.

Networking was another big benefit that Mr Patrick reaped from attending conferences during his PhD studies.

“It was actually through meeting people at a conference that led me to obtaining the post-doc position that I have currently -- so networking is worth the effort,” he said.

Mr Patrick is a post-doctoral scientist at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, where he works within a developmental biology and stem cell lab that generates a large amount of genetics data in relation to heart development and function.

“My role is to analyse this data, determine if it contains any interesting patterns, and what biological significance these patterns may have,” he said.

Mr Patrick was one of the guest speakers at the recent SCMB Graduation Celebration Afternoon Tea.

Photos of the event can be viewed on the School’s Facebook page.

Image: Ralph Patrick on his graduation day, at the SCMB Graduation Celebration Afternoon Tea.

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