School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Anna Win-Mason

February 2009

I asked Anna how she got started in chemistry. It seems to have begun with the mysterious arrival of a brochure about CHEM 191 (a bridging course at Victoria University) in the mail one day. She had just arrived home from six months in the USA as an exchange student and was wondering what to do next.

These kinds of fortuitous moments have marked Anna's already fascinating career in chemistry. Of course she took the summer course, to round out her knowledge from school. She then carried on, preferring chemistry to psychology "because of the smaller classes and nice lecturers". She finished with 1st class Honours in 2001.

Embarking on a PhD was a big decision and she took a year out; synthesising inositol standards at Industrial Research Ltd (IRL), which confirmed her desire to make a career of chemistry. The motivation to 'be like the guys out there', with their knowledge and experience, saw her back at Victoria with a Genesis Oncology Trust postgraduate scholarship for PhD study.

The first year went well, but during the second, Anna's supervisor moved overseas and she decided not to follow him to the US. In hindsight it was a good choice, since she later became seriously unwell, having to endure nine hours of brain surgery to remove a benign cyst, and a recovery that took nearly three years. The PhD was put on hold and eventually given away, after she decided it would be better to try something else.

But, chemistry came calling again! Anna took a part-time job at GlycoSyn (IRL) as a Logistics Assistant, in order to work with chemists, and a few months later a colleague persuaded her to try some bench chemistry one day a week. Her skills came back quickly and her confidence returned. Confidence enough to return to study; this time a Masters with the Immunoglycomics Research group, funded by an Enterprise Scholarship in conjunction with IRL. Funnily enough, six months in, she has decided to have another crack at that PhD and will simply extend her Masters research.

Anna is feeling positive, saying, "the chemistry is working and the group is great - it's cool". Anna got married last year and would like to post-doc overseas. As for hobbies, she loves gigs, movies and books, but I am left in no doubt when she says, "my main hobby is people".

Find out more about Anna's project here.