By KRISTYNA STEPNICKA
It took just one meeting with Dr Claire Foldi at her Monash University laboratory for this photographer to be inspired.
A DAY IN A SCIENCE LAB
Research scientist in the Oldfield Lab at Monash University Claire Foldi relies on government funding for the advancement of her career. “It’s a year-to-year thing … you really have to love research for the sake of research. For the love of scientific discovery,” Dr Foldi said.
After her first post-doctoral position in Sweden, Dr Foldi returned to Australia and was unemployed for five months. When recruited to Monash in 2015, she had to change her research focus.Some of her research relies on the use of animal models. However multiple measures and ethics laws exist to ensure animals are respected in the lab.
Dr Foldi spends at least half of her day conducting experiments using specialised equipment. She is currently exploring how anorexia sufferers “do not experience basic rewards associated with pleasurable activities, such as eating”, she said.
To observe results using a microscope, experiment samples need to be painted on to glass slides. This can take up to eight hours. “For me it feels like zen. I don’t have to think about anything.”
In the lab, Dr Foldi is also responsible for supervising her PhD student Laura (left). Special grants are becoming more widely available for women when they have children. But Dr Foldi, who says she does not want children, feels that this is a “slightly different form of gender discrimination”.
Towards the end of her 10-hour day, she records experimental data. She has found anorexic rats are able to maintain a healthy weight when the brain’s reward system is activated. She is travelling to Berlin in June to present her work at a conference and aims to one day develop a drug to treat anorexia that specifically targets the reward system.