Yen Chin Koay

What is your current position, and what do you do?
Postdoctoral researcher at The Heart Research Institute, Sydney. My current research focuses on the discovery of biomarkers that may have clinical utility (e.g. by providing better diagnostic markers of obesity-driven metabolic disease, such as insulin resistance, diabetes and fatty liver disease etc.) using metabolomic, genomic, and transcriptomic profiling, which should allow earlier intervention by predicting future disease.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
I received my B.S. and M.S. degree in Chemistry from Universiti Sains Malaysia, in 2009 and 2012, and I then travelled to Sydney to do a Ph.D. in chemistry with Assoc. Prof. Shelli McAlpine at UNSW in 2013. Since I graduated, I have been working at The Heart Research Institute as a postdoctoral researcher, based at The Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
I think my biggest challenge is to understand how chemistry interfaces with biology, and to expand beyond my comfort zone to work in different research branches.

What achievement are you most proud of?
I am very proud of being a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Award.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
In my opinion, the key qualities that define successful scientists are to always have a keen learning mind, and never be afraid of embracing change.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
I am currently using my background in chemistry to make new discoveries in biology. My research involves the use of chromatography, mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy to discover new markers and predictors of disease and to uncover new targets for therapy.
What are your interests outside of work?
In my free time, I like to cook and paint.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
I pace myself when I get too overwhelmed at work, regularly keep in touch with close friends, and organize weekly social meet ups.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
Follow your passion, never afraid of changes, and challenge yourself to keep learning new things in science.

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