Mai is from the Skyline class of 2009 and studied Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Melbourne. She was the first chair of the Skyline Alumni Committee and since 2017 she has been pursuing a PhD in DNA repair at Tufts University located in Boston Massachusetts. She will be beginning her 4th year of a 5-year PhD which includes both research work, undergraduate mentoring and teaching. Her research utilises Drosophila melanogaster as a model to better understand the molecular choices that occur when DNA is damaged and how cells will repair these lesions thereby leading to cell and organismal survival.
Thinking back on her time at Skyline she says,” Family circumstances, in particular at the time I was in highschool, were not great. My parents were immigrants. Mum couldn’t work much by the time I was in highschool as she had degraded so much of her cartilage between her vertebrae working non-stop at a sewing machine to make ends meet. We didn’t have much so Skyline helping with schooling was a godsend. I also lost my father to cancer at 15 which flipped my life upside down.
Skyline were the first people outside of a small self-motivated flame in myself that said that I was worthwhile, clever and persistent and possibly that I had the capacity to accomplish more than mediocre. That I could indeed be impactful in my own and in the lives of others. That I could achieve anything I wanted to as long as I worked hard and let my head and my heart lead me. They not only helped out financially I have made great friends and people who I know support me and want to see me succeed.
They were the first thing that told me, you’re good, keep going, you can do it, let us support you, give you tools to achieve, these are our resources, we see something in you see that in yourself and go out there and do something with it. That is something I carry in myself, work on and implement in my life as a mentor and teacher”
Reflecting on 2020 she says,” 2020 has been rough. It has highlighted aspects of humanity we are not proud of. If I had the power to change one thing I would hope that everyone was less selfish and more selfless, do a little more to help a neighbour, speak out for those who cannot and listen to those who need to be heard.”
When not researching and teaching she enjoys catching up with friends, eating good food, watching tv shows and hanging out with her fish.