Exploring a future in neuroscience 

What were you doing at 5 am? Dreaming peacefully or lacing up your running shoes? For the past two weeks at 5 am, Emma Peng has been on a train from her home on the Gold Coast to Brisbane for an internship in the Balbi lab.  

In November 2023, Emma participated in UQ’s Young Changemakers Program, prompted by her high school biology teacher. After hearing a presentation by Queensland Brain Institute neuroscientist Dr Phoebe Mayne, Emma reached out to Phoebe to ask about internship opportunities. She remembers the moment she got Phoebe’s positive response.  

“I was helping my Mum at work, and I jumped up when I read Phoebe’s email. I was so excited,” Emma said. “I want to go into medicine, but visiting QBI and listening to Phoebe’s career story sparked my interest in neuroscience.” 

Emma understood the QBI internship was practical but didn’t realise how hands-on it was.  

“I joined the lab at the same time as some Summer Research Program students, and we got straight into histology workshops and sectioning and staining brain tissue for research.

“It was nothing like the simple experiments I was used to at school. Every measurement is so precise and detailed.”  

Under Phoebe’s supervision, Emma has also learnt about imaging and data analysis and observed surgeries. Her brief experience with the QBI team has piqued her interest in brain research. While she is about to embark on her last year of high school at Trinity Lutheran College, Emma is already talking about opportunities to return to QBI to gain more research experience.  

“Neuroscience brings together everything I like – biology, chemistry, maths – it all clicks. I love science because it is all about the present and the future.” 

Last updated:
16 January 2024