L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellow, Dr Valerie Sung, is using her STEM smarts to improve the lives of children with congenital hearing loss.
Dr Valerie Sung has studied a lot. So much so that she’s only just getting stuck in to her research career 25 years after finishing high school.
“The journey has been very long indeed,” Dr Sung says of her study pathway. “But most clinician-researchers would be in the same boat.”
The L’Oréal–UNESCO For Women in STEM fellow kicked off her career with an epic six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at The University of Melbourne, followed by a 12-month internship, seven years of specialist paediatrics training, a PhD through The University of Melbourne and a masters of public health at Monash University.
STEM + helping others
Since wrapping up her studies Valerie’s been working as a researcher, while also practicing as a clinician in a hospital. She’s seriously passionate about helping people – and their families – which is what has ultimately driven her investigation into kids with congenital hearing loss.
“I feel honoured to have received the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science study grant this year to further my research,” she says. “It would be incredible to be able to identify the reason why some children with hearing loss thrive while others struggle with their learning and development.”
Valerie’s research will be turned into a clinical tool that can be used by clinicians during diagnosis, offering up accurate – study backed – facts and hopefully reducing the anxiety faced by families. Finding a way to prevent – or even cure – hearing loss would be a bonus too.
Making it work
These days you can find Valerie either head down in research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute or kicking it in the clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital. “My week is divided between research, clinical work and looking after my young family,” she explains. “My research days are filled with meetings and writing grants and papers, and I love the flexibility – especially while juggling family life.”
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And her advice for young science lovers keen to get into an exciting clinician career where they can really make a difference? “Follow your heart, do the things that interest you and your passion will overcome any obstacles along the way. Connect with and learn from people you aspire to be!”
Check out more of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellows here.
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.