Guess whaaaaaat? I'm headed home this summer!
Things have been going really well with my project here in Australia. I've learned a ton about cell culture, developed a new method for bone marrow collection for cell culture, completed basic conventional and RT PCR training, completed basic serology training, grown up and titrated four strains of ASFV, learned about IMPT/IFAT... and on April 1 I will have completed my first ASFV trial in domestic pigs.
I have learned a ton - not only in the lab, but also about myself. Moving to a new country was incredibly stressful yet a big adventure and chance for me to grow. By the time I leave, I'll have lived here in Australia for about 10 months and successfully completed a ton of training in infectious disease research and virology.
The lab back home at Kansas State University/Biosecurity Research Institute has gained approval to work on ASFV, so there is a ton of work to be done to get things going. When I left last fall, this approval hadn't come through yet. ASFV is a Select Agent, meaning you need government approval to work on the virus. So the original plan to have me train in Australia for 18 months has been cut to about 10 months. Yet I have still gotten so much out of the time that I've spent here - both at the lab and experiencing a new country.
Plans are still developing, but it looks like I'll be home in May and soon after that I'll set things back up for myself in Manhattan. Back to Wildcat Country!
EDIT: I've told a few people here and there about my plans to head home, and I was disappointed to receive a bit of backlash.
"You can't go home yet! You haven't visited Perth/Adelaide/Darwin/Sydney!"
- I haven't been a lot of places, but I have done a ton of things here in Victoria,I've seen the highlights, and I can always come back and visit to experience more
"But the Great Barrier Reef is disappearing, you have to visit it now now now!"
- That's outside of my budget right now, plus I have a full-time job and can't take off
to travel that far.
"You need to go to the Melbourne Cup! And a footie game! And do all theseother things..."
- I attended the Geelong Cup, the Great Australian Beer Festival, White Night,Toast to the Coast, and the Portarlington Mussel Festival. I've done Australia
day. I've done lots of other fun things with the people that I've met here. I've
done the best I can with the money I have and the weekends that I didn't have
"But remember that one time you missed out on that fun event that is essentialfor all visitors?"
- Yes I do, I was busy growing up virus to use. I was busy developing a bonemarrow cell collection/culture protocol. I was busy planning my upcoming trial.
Because that's my JOB - the whole reason that I am here in Australia in the first
I look forward to more fun activities during the next few months, but I also have a trial starting in one week that will occupy most of my time. And then all the testing to be done post-trial will keep me busy as well. I'll do the best I can, working hard at my job but also trying to enjoy my last few months in Australia with friends.