Scientific mentor without peer

Dr Ines Atmosukarto

Any young female scientist looking for a mentor would do well to study the career path of Dr Ines Atmosukarto, an award-winning biotechnologist with a string of accolades to her name.

The world renowned research scientist has been honoured by both Australian and Indonesian governments for her work in finding new treatments for cancer and other infectious diseases.

And she credits the University of Adelaide, where she completed her Bachelor of Science and PhD, for laying the foundation for a successful career.

Name:  Ines Irene C. Atmosukarto

University degree details:

Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular and Cellular Biology (Molecular Biosciences), University of Adelaide, 2001

Bachelor of Science Honours, First Class Honours (Biochemistry), University of Adelaide, 1996

 Recipient of the Brian and Heather Foster Prize for candidate who is highest placed in the First Class of Honours Biochemistry

Bachelor of Science, University of Adelaide, 1995

Details of any scholarships awarded:

Recipient of OPRS (Overseas Postgraduate Research Scholarship) and University of Adelaide scholarship for postgraduate studies.

Recipient of STAID (Science and Technology for Industrial Development) scholarship for undergraduate and Honours studies: BPPT (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology) – Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology and LIPI (Indonesian Academy of Sciences).

How did these scholarships assist you in your study?

The scholarships were critical in enabling me to pursue my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Australia. Without that funding I would have been unable to pursue those studies and my career path would have been significantly different.

What have you been doing since graduation?

I initially worked in Indonesia at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences known as LIPI in Indonesia  where I established a research group at LIPI’s Centre for Biotechnology.  During this time I was also involved in the setup of a natural product drug discovery company called PT Indo Bio Pertiwi.  This gave me an introduction into the biotech industry. In 2006 I moved to Canberra to assist in the setup of a start-up biotech company, Lipotek Pty Ltd.  I have been involved in growing this company for the last six years.  These have been exciting times.

Career highlights:

Recipient of Anugerah IPTEK 2012. This award was presented during the 17th National Technology Awakening Day which was attended by President Soesilo Bambang Yudiyono.

Australian Alumni Award, 2009 for Research and Innovation ‘in recognition of internationally acknowledged contributions as a young scientist through cutting edge research and for her dedication to finding new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases to save the lives of others’.

Femina award, 2007. The award recognised 35 Indonesian professional women for their contribution to various professional fields.

2007 BioVision.Nxt Fellow, initiative of World Life Sciences Forum BioVision.  This bi-annual meeting provides an opportunity for early career scientists to meet and network with Nobel Laureates, key scientists and many renowned experts in healthcare, agriculture-nutrition and the environment.

Recipient of Indonesian Institute of Science 2006, 2007, 2008 Competitive grant for the identification of novel compounds with antiviral activity, with an initial focus on Avian Influenza H5N1, from the biological diversity of Indonesia.

Recipient of award from the Indonesian State Minister for Women Empowerment, 2004

Recipient of L’Oreal-UNESCO fellowship for Young Women in Science in 2004 for project entitled ‘Mining the potential of a relatively untapped source of microbial diversity – endophytic microorganisms from Indonesian medicinal plants as a source of lead molecules with anti-infective activity”.

Recipient of Third World Academy of Science Grant for the year 2002 for a project entitled “Application of phage display technology for the identification of novel antigens for immuno contraception”.

Why choose University of Adelaide to study?

The University of Adelaide has a great reputation and excellent facilities with very strong scholarly traditions.  It is a highly respected university with a very strong network from which students are able to benefit. The university continues to improve its facilities so that students can have an improved experience.  All this without forgetting its traditional routes!  The university’s location in the heart of Adelaide is quite unique as it provides an excellent opportunity to soak up the great atmosphere that Adelaide has to offer.  This is a great multicultural city without having many of the traps of much bigger cities.

Apart from your academic qualification, how did your experience at the University of Adelaide shape you as a person?

I realise now that during my time at the university I grew significantly as a person and as a scientist.  I learnt to be independent, curious, critical and analytical. I learnt to appreciate and embrace other cultures.  I discovered an interest in foods from other cultures.  I met my husband there and made some life-long friends during my time in Adelaide.  Even after more than a decade we remain in touch.

Advice to incoming students to gain the most from their time at university

Embrace all that a new place has to offer and avoid seeking the comfort of small groups.  This is especially true for overseas students.  For those students, just like me, it is critical to avoid falling in the trap of mixing only with students from your original country.  To gain the most out of this unique experience it is a good idea to sometimes get out of your comfort zone.

Any tips re finding work after graduation?

Be persistent.


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