UQ Biotech graduate takes science to new levels
Dr Vivian Chan has been busy democratising scientific knowledge using human and artificial intelligence.
As CEO and co-founder of Sparrho, a London-based startup, Vivian has come a long way from her Bachelor of Biotechnology foundations at The University of Queensland.
She attributes her career pathway to her beginnings at UQ.
After finishing her Biotechnology degree at UQ, Vivian took the opportunity to work in the commercialisation and investment side of science, also at UQ, as Uniseed’s Investment Process Manager – a position her subsequent PhD stemmed from.
In 2008, a PhD scholarship position at the 800-year old Cambridge University led her to embrace the chance to undertake research at one of the world’s most historic universities.
“The Biotechnology program was great at UQ,” Vivian said.
“It helped shape my decision to stay in science and pursue more research abroad.
“My lecturers and supervisors at UQ were outstanding – not only academically, but also as great mentors.”
Vivian continued to reap further benefits from her UQ degree even after completing her PHD at Cambridge University.
“My UQ degree really helped me in the next step in my career as it also gave me the exposure to what industry science and the commercialisation of research is about, which meant that I had a really good menu of career options,” she said.
Vivian said that the additional exposure of speaking to a range of different people, from start-ups and investors, to businesses, industries and academics, also helped in her decision to establish Sparrho with a co-founder.
Launched in 2013, Sparrho is an online platform that combines human and artificial intelligence to help users track the latest scientific research on a real-time basis, thereby enabling people to stay on top of the science that matters to them. The platform has over 250,000 users across more than 150 countries – including researchers, academics, students and also members of the public with an interest in science. Recently, Sparrho opened up the platform to research institutions and universities.
Vivian has twice been invited to address European Union ministers, alongside other speakers including Bill Gates, about the importance of Open Data for innovation, and was also selected by Management Today as one of their "35 Women Under 35" in 2015.
She recently spoke at the UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences’ Industry Breakfast and shared her remarkable journey from studying biotechnology at UQ to successfully venturing into technological entrepreneurship.