Does having a baby mean your ambitions have to go on hold? Not as far as PhD student Elizabeth Thomas is concerned.

After completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours)/Bachelor of Science degree, Elizabeth Thomas developed an interest in genetics but was eager to break the stereotype by stepping outside of the lab environment and experiencing one-on-one contact with patients.

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Fast forward to 2018, Elizabeth is now a PhD researcher exploring cognitive performance across the schizophrenia continuum. With the disorder affecting one percent of the population, Elizabeth is keen to find out more about the broader schizophrenia continuum such as using eye tracking movements. Still in the early stages of her research career, she is hopeful that the results can shed light on potential risks and protective factors associated with schizophrenia.

With so little known about the disorder, Elizabeth, accompanied with her seven month old daughter and husband, will be making their way to Germany as she has recently received the DAAD short term grant to aid her research. The prestigious grant is provided to foreign candidates with an opportunity to continue their research in Germany. During her one month visit, she will also be attending the European Summer School of Eye Movements (ESSEM), where she will further develop her understanding of eye tracking movements and have the opportunity to present her research.

All while being on maternity leave, Elizabeth has continued to make strides in your field. “I chose to start a family and take maternity leave during my PhD, and even though it means I finish a year later, the number of opportunities I have had while on leave, especially the opportunity to collaborate in Germany is so exciting.”

Also a Professional Tutor at Monash University, Elizabeth hopes to continue to find the perfect balance between research and teaching at a leading university such as Monash.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter at Lizzie_ThomasAU