Dr Christina Cortez-Jugo was the second recipient of the CBNS Carer’s Support Fund. She was able to use funds to attend the 10th International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies (ICMAT), which was held on the 23rd– 28th of June 2019 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
It was a huge conference with 45 concurrent symposiums covering materials research in areas, including optics, photonics, sensing, drug delivery, and imaging. Christina presented our work on the “Nebulization of Phenolic Capsules for Pulmonary Delivery” in the symposium “Delivery Systems for Biomedical and Consumer Care Applications”. There were exciting presentations on the development of micro/nanoneedles and nanofabricated patches for drug delivery, as well as the application of artificial intelligence in drug administration that is already helping to improve the outcomes for some cancer patients. Christina says that “one of the highlights of the conference was attending a forum on ‘Why so few Women in Science, Engineering and Technology’. With speakers including Professor Paula Hammond, Head of Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the experiences of women in STEM were highlighted and strategies to improve the participation of women in STEM, through inclusive engagement and gender diversity, were discussed.”
Together with a Melbourne Research Fellowship from The University of Melbourne, Christina was able to participate in the conference and present her work to a multidisciplinary, international audience. As a mother of two young children, attending conferences abroad has been challenging due to carer responsibilities and/or the associated high costs involved with travelling with the family or a carer to be able to work and participate at a conference. The funding from CBNS helped alleviate this cost by funding her youngest child’s airfare and partly covering carer subsistence. “It was fantastic to be able to explore Singapore as a family before and after the conference, as well as hear exciting developments in drug delivery, network with peers, and re-connect with friends and colleagues from my past US postdoc during the conference. One outcome that has stemmed from my participation in this conference has been an invitation to review a paper for a drug delivery journal. I am grateful to CBNS for this initiative that supports women and other carers with their career development and promotes increased visibility of women at conferences.”