10 questions with… Amy Cain


ARC DECRA Research Fellow Amy Cain from the Department of Molecular Sciences describes her job as “fighting in the world’s biggest, smallest war: against antibiotic resistance.”

Amy joined Macquarie in 2018, bringing extensive experience from her time at Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool Universities in the UK, as well as the Wellcome Trust centre in Malawi in sub-Saharan Africa.

“At Macquarie, I hunt for new antibiotic targets in resistant hospital bacteria and examine the role of heavy metals in infection using various genomics-based approaches,” explains Amy.

“I’ve also helped set up Australia’s first fully functional Galleria Research Facility (caterpillars) as an ethical in vivo animal model.”

For National Science Week Amy is producing Australia’s first microbiology podcast, hosted by Dr Lucie Semenec (also from the Department of Molecular Sciences), called ‘Getting to Know Your Friendly Neighbourhood Microbiologist’.

From sky-diving to ’90s sitcoms, we find out more about this bacteria battling researcher.

1. In a nutshell, my job is to…
Fight in the world’s biggest, smallest war: against antibiotic resistance. Day to day, this means examining the DNA of difficult-to-treat hospital bacteria and, like a genetic jigsaw, piecing together what makes them resistant – so we can make new, effective antibiotics.

2. My definition of success is…
Getting to wherever you want to be in life. Set your ideal balance in terms of work, money, lifestyle, etc and go for it!

3. A person at Macquarie who inspires me is…
There are many! Professor Ian Paulsen is a joy to work with – an enthusiastic and brilliant scientist who isn’t afraid to work on anything exciting under the sun and sea. Professor Lesley Hughes, apart from being one of Australia’s most respected climate scientists, is an eloquent writer and an advocate for diversity and inclusion at Macquarie.

4. This year I want to…
Publish my lab’s first research paper from Macquarie (we just got out a couple of review papers). We’ve got some super exciting results and I can’t wait to get them out into the world!

5. The scariest thing I’ve ever done is…
During my PhD, I decided to get my sky-diving licence. Jumping out of the plane isn’t the scary part – parachuting down is! Especially, as I have a terrible sense of direction and would get lost.

6. My guilty pleasure is…
Watching cartoons or ’90s sitcoms, with a nice glass of wine.

7. I’m scared of…
I’m not the biggest fan of scorpions – the way they sting is unnerving to me. Weirdly, spiders are fine.

8. The most important thing I’ve learned in the last five years is…
That by hard work, collaboration and inspiration one can accomplish big things!

9. If I had the day off today, you would find me…
Bushwalking along the Central Coast, walking my dog or at a yoga retreat somewhere.

10. To me, the best thing about the Macquarie community is…
When I settled back into Australia a year and a half ago, I joined Macquarie because of the sense of community. Everyone knows each other and helps out as much as possible. Other universities can be petty and overly competitive, but it’s very inclusive here.





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