Briana Davie is a passionate cook and an avid reader with a black belt in Taekwondo -which can be very handy in chemistry and pharmacology research.

It was towards the middle of Year 12 when I realised that-unlike most of the people around me-I was actually, genuinely enjoying chemistry. So I did some research and came across medicinal chemistry at Monash. I thought it sounded interesting and useful. I've loved it ever since.

Initially, I struggled with lab classes-until I did a six-week summer research project. Working to my own schedule and driving my own topic, I really enjoyed the lab. The motivation is yours. You own the successes. You own the failures. So I decided to keep going with research.

In my PhD today, I'm investigating a receptor that's expressed in the brain called the M1 muscarinic receptor. It's been identified as a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of cognitive deficits experienced in disorders like Alzheimer's Disease and schizophrenia.

I make molecules in chemistry that potentially can selectively target this receptor. Then in pharmacology I test their success. I can take my chemistry to the next level with pharmacology. Being able to work across two different but integrated departments drove me on with my Honours and PhD. You won't find that opportunity in many other places.

The brain is incredibly mysterious, complex and challenging. It's one part of the body that we still don't fully understand. Given our ageing population, and the impact of conditions like Alzheimer's, it's important to unravel the mystery. And schizophrenia affects 1% of the population. There's also a lot of stigma around brain disorders, which really needs to change. That's why my research and similar projects are attracting funding.

I love cooking and reading-non-academic literature is such a treat. I'm reading The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize, which will hopefully come in handy at some point. I do Taekwondo-to work the brain and body in a different way. I got my black belt in 2011. Taekwondo and research may seem very different endeavours, but they're definitely intertwined-the focus, stamina and discipline. Then there's chemistry and cooking ...

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