Q&A with Zimei Wu, CRS Academic Scientist


1. How did you arrive at your current university?

For me it was a long way, a visiting scholarship funded my flights to this beautiful country (New Zealand), but I required lots of hard work to conquer various barriers such as language and culture. It was also a long road professionally, I worked in a University teaching hospital initially before I commenced my Master’s study, and had conducted pharmaceutical industry research for years before I took my current academic position. 

2. When did you first know that you wanted to be a scientist?  

In high school when I was still naïve. 

3. When you finished graduate school, why did you choose to stay in academia instead of going into industry? 

I have never physically been out of universities, but I had a big detour before I formally came to academia. Ironically it was when I worked for industry (still based in a university) that I found academia was where my heart had always been.  I do miss my time in industry though. 

4. How has your unique background assisted you in your career? 

Having worked in two different countries and the experience in both industry and universities have brought me good opportunities  in international research collaborations, and potential industrial partnership, which in turn will enrich my teaching.  

5. What advice would you give to an aspiring young academic? 

Acquire knowledge (including critical thinking skills) as much you can, everyone can be your teacher, grab whatever opportunities, take advantage of networking for your research development. 

6. What do you regard as the most significant achievement(s) of your scientific career thus far? 

I obtained an international scientist exchange award which allowed me to establish research collaboration internationally, this will lend me further opportunities in my career. 

I won an award in an International Toastmasters Club (Dunedin, NZ) in 2007 and my name was engraved in a big trophy. Being a non-native speaker, I consider it as one of the most significant achievements that had assisted my scientific career.  

7.  Which scientists have inspired you in your career and how did they inspire you?

Marie Curie, the female Nobel Prize winner from whom I learned that a woman could succeed in science even in the areas like physics and chemistry (I still like those subjects). 

8. Did you have a mentor(s) and how did they guide you along your career?

I was only assigned a mentor recently.  I have already found her feedback to be invaluable to keep me working more effectively towards my career goals.  With my mentor’s encouragement I found more strength in myself.  

9. How do you come up with your ideas for grants and/or papers?

Attending to seminars and conferences as much as possible to get most updated research ideas and collaboration opportunities. Reading high impact journals is always rewarding for grant and paper writing.

10. Looking back, what are some things that you wished someone had told you when you were starting out in your academic career?

Sometimes you need to say NO, in order to be able to focus on your major goal(s).

11. What skills or attributes do you think make for a good academic?

Being organized and focused, persistence, patience and resilience.

12. What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an academic?    

Academics can have holidays or an easy life while the students are away.    

13. Outside of your scientific research, what hobbies do you enjoy? 

Walking, swimming, 'gossiping' with enthusiastic friends (academic and non-academic)

14. Which scientific discovery do you wish that you had contributed to in history?   

The discovery of liposomes and their applications in drug delivery. 

15. Name five things on your desk right now?

A lecture to give (and another one to write), a pile of assignments to mark and a thesis to read, a paper to rebuttal, an animal ethics application to submit, and a grant application to prepare. 

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