Student Profile - Melissa Kirkovski

Melissa completed her PhD in 2015 with MAPrc where she was looking at neural connectivity in autism spectrum disorders. She now works as a research fellow with the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Deakin University, and continues to collaborate on publications with MAPrc. This interview was originally published during Melissa's PhD.

Melissa is a Research Assistant/ PhD Candidate in the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre. Her topic is "Neural connectivity in autism spectrum disorders" and she is supervised by Professor Paul Fitzgerald and Dr Peter Enticott.

How long have you worked at Monash?

Two and a half years.

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?

I worked as a disability support worker/therapist at Integrated Education and Communication. This clinic provides Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What do you like best about your role?
Getting to work with a great research team and being exposed to a variety of different types of research in mental health.

Why did you choose your current career path?

I have always had a strong interest in science and psychology. This job has provided me with the perfect opportunity to work in two areas that are of interest to me.

First job?
Service assistant at Coles.

Worst job?
I have really enjoyed all of my jobs so far.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?
I am currently working on a research project investigating perceptual decision making in ASD. In this study we use the “rubber hand illusion” to investigate the way that people perceive information from their senses under ambiguous circumstances. I am also working on a project investigating neural connectivity in ASD. This involves a series of neuro-cognitive tasks, an MRI and combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and EEG to investigate connections between brain areas involved with social processing. This study will also investigate gender differences in ASD.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?

Maui, Hawaii. Beautiful beaches.

What is your favourite place to eat and why?
Pizzeria Praja Ristorante in Portarlington. They grow all of their own vegetables and make their own pasta. It’s amazing!

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

“Don’t take life too seriously.”

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?

I have a black belt in karate.