Student Profile - Kye Hanafiah

Kye completed her PhD and has now gone on to work as a lecturer at the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Dr Hanafiah was recently named the world's best science communicator. She continues to collaborate on research with the Burnet Institute. This interview was originally published during Dr Hanafiah's PhD.

Kye is a PhD student in the Diagnostic Development Laboratory at the Burnet Institute. Her PhD looks at serodiagnosis of tuberculosis and she is supervised by A/Prof David Anderson.

What is your research about?

My PhD looks at serodiagnosis of tuberculosis (primarily a lung infection/mucosal organ) using TB-specific dimeric IgA as well as other specific antibodies. Ultimately the goal is to develop reagents and/or assays that can be translated into point of care diagnostic tests.

How long have you been doing your research?

I should be finishing by April which will have been 3 years.

Who was your supervisor and what do you like about him?

David Anderson. I like him because...well we like to say that he can sell ice to eskimoes! He has a way of saying things that are very convincing and also he has a vision. He is one of those people, and I think a few lab heads are like this, where they can listen to multiple talks of various types and they can see exactly how that applies to their research. I always really appreciate David's direction, but he's also just a great guy and I'm glad that I have a good relationship with him.

What is your favourite place in the world?

My most memorable trip was to Chamonix, France where we had a beautiful hike in the mountains. It eventually led us into a glacier cave that had beautiful illumination with colorful lights. The day ended with us having hot cocoa with the summit of Mont Blanc in view.

What do you do in your spare time?

I mostly play with my son. I have a little boy, he's just turned one and he's starting to walk and he's so feisty so he basically takes up most of my free time!

What advice would you give to someone who is starting their PhD?

I think it's important to try and establish a good relationship with your supervisor, and keep that regular contact. I also think that when they say ‘start writing as soon as you start' you should absolutely do that. There are a lot of things that you won't be familiar with, and doing a literature review really helps, and it's also something you just really don't want to do at the last minute! Finally, don't be afraid to ask about something you don't know. For example, I came from a public health background so I didn't have as much lab experience as some people so there were times where I just had to say ‘I don't know how to do this, can you please show me'.

What will you do when you finish your PhD?

I am going to be teaching. I am under a scholarship with a local university in Malaysia (University of Science Malaysia) and they have a scheme where they send students to do their PhDs elsewhere and then the students come back and become lecture staff.