Chase your dreams through education and self-confidence

A woman in science: “I don’t believe science alone will improve the quality of life. Instead, I would say education and positive thoughts give us different perspectives and value for our lives,” – Sara Thomas.

She is a Ph.D. candidate, a loving wife and recently welcomed her first child to the world to help celebrate her soon expected graduation.

Sara Thomas loves to dance, cook, watch movies and encourages all girls and women in the areas of STEM to chase their dream without any fear.  

“In every field, we have to face challenges, but if you are really talented, confident and positive enough to bring a change, it’s easy to overcome the barriers, and no one stops you from that,” she said.

Ms. Thomas is a long way from home, India, where she attained her bachelor degree in Physics from Mahatma Gandhi University and Masters of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from Bangalore University.

In 2015, she searched for further academic developments, when she applied for a Ph.D. candidature in the division of Engineering at first at the University of Tasmania.

Sara Thomas in a group photo with Professor Emily Hilder

“I was completely unaware of the ASTech program until Professor Emily Hilder contacted me and informed that there are Ph.D. positions available under the ASTech Program Scheme in the area of Novel Porous Polymer Phases for Sample Preparation.” Ms. Thomas said.

From engineering to the porous polymer, her Ph.D. research focuses on developing novel porous polymer material that can be used for sample preparation technique. The advantage of this material is to trap small molecular compounds such as drugs, emerging contaminants from complex matrices such as environmental, food and biological samples.

“It’s a combination of material chemistry and finding their application in environmental science,” Ms. Thomas added.

Moving with her supervisor, Professor Hilder to the University of South Australia, and learning more about the industry-academia collaboration, as part of the scholarship the ASTech program offered her, she realized the importance and the impact of such partnership.

ASTech candidates: Sara Thomas, James Chan, and Neeraj Verma

“I always had an uncertainty of the quality of research happening in the industry before I joined in the ASTech program. The support and ideas obtained from industry experts are much appreciated; this will help in developing new technologies.” Ms. Thomas said.

The ASTech journey transformed Ms. Thomas’s career and expertise forever, she is soaring in the sky beating all challenges that confront her progress.

“This Ph.D. topic was a challenge to me because I came out from my comfort shell of research which was based on developing materials for energy storage applications. However, the indeed support from industry and academic supervisors was much appreciated, which has given me the confidence to move on with the project.”

“At some stages in my Ph.D. I was really depressed with the progress of the project, but my hard work and the push I received from the supervisors really helped me solve the issues and getting success,” she added

Ms. Thomas won the student travel grant for the Ecoforum 2018, held in Sydney, where she presented a poster on Extraction of Per & Polyfluorinated alkyl compounds from the environmental matrix using porous polymer monolith.

She is aiming to offer an exceptional contribution to society by sharing the knowledge and the experience she has gone through in her life.

Sara Thomas with her Husband

The hardworking scientist is thankful to her parents, especially her mother, a science teacher, who had a vision of providing the maximum education to her children so they can stand independently, one of which is Sara.

“Also, my husband, who given me all freedom to chase down my dream. I love them both,” Ms. Thomas added.

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