Conference and Professional Development Grant recipient: Penny Dalla

7 November 2013
Photograph of Penny Dalla

A new chapter in her research journey took UTS PhD student Penny Dalla to the 28th European Cytoskeletal Forum in Switzerland earlier this year. Dalla, who is undertaking her PhD at the UTS Graduate School of Health, is investigating multi-drug resistant cancer and the way in which microparticles transfer resistance between cancer cells.

“In particular, I’m looking at breast cancer cells and the transfer of the PGP protein. I’m also interested in looking at how they’re taken up into the recipient cells, how they interact with that cell, and how they transfer the proteins across,” she says.

Research into the cytoskeleton, a network of intercellular proteins, is an important element of Dalla’s body of work. But until she received funding from the TCRN to attend the Cytoskeletal Forum, she had only a basic direction for the next stage of her study.

“I picked this conference because I was just starting out afresh in the cytoskeleton and I needed to know a whole lot about it. It had been recommended to me by one of my supervisors,” she says.

“I learnt a whole lot about the different interactions of the cytoskeleton with endocytosis and other implications that could potentially tie together how these things are interacting with the cell.”

Among the new knowledge she took away from the conference was a better understanding of live cell imaging techniques that scientists are using to build a global body of knowledge about the cytoskeleton and its implications in a range of diseases.

Dalla says in addition to learning more about the science underpinning her research, she also had the opportunity to meet a range of senior scientists and PhD students working on different aspects of cytoskeletal research. And despite returning to Australia at the end of August, her experiences at the conference remain fresh in her mind.

“This conference was quite small – I think it was only 125 people, and the organisers had done it in such a way that there was lots of breaks in between the talks for coffee and lunches and they were all organised together so that you’re encouraged to sit and talk to other members of the conference,” she says.

“It was great for networking both with the researchers and other students, and listening to other students’ experiences as well as advice from senior scientists. 

“In the six or so weeks I’ve been back, I’ve never been so motivated as I am now – and productive. Seeing the output that other students have managed to do, and the quality of the images, has just motivated me to work that little bit harder to try to get a little bit more done in every day.”

Grant snapshot

Funding round: Round 2, 2013
Conference: 28th European Cytoskeletal Forum
Location: Switzerland
Objective: Conference attendance