In the lab with Doctors Michelle Rank, Charlotte Clark and Professor Jason Ivanusic
If you want to advance human health, we will provide innovative teaching, world-class resources and cutting-edge technology to help you achieve success.
Q&A with our Experts
Meet Dr Michelle Rank
Senior Lecturer Topographical Anatomy, Department of Anatomy and Physiology
What is your role in the Department?
I’m a Senior Lecturer in Topographical Anatomy. I’m a teaching focused academic with a specialist interest in digital anatomy – this means that I specialise in designing and delivering cutting-edge anatomy education using innovative digitised anatomy resources.
Explain your teaching interests?
My main teaching interest is bringing modern technology into the anatomy discipline to merge the best of both digital and hands-on learning resources. Anatomy can be a very traditional subject area, but there are so many exciting ways that we can make the experience of learning anatomy more than just looking at pictures and memorising labels. It’s really about finding new ways to discover and highlight the amazing anatomical features of our incredible human bodies.
What impact do you hope your teaching will have?
I hope my teaching inspires the next generation of health researchers and healthcare professionals. These are the people that will discover new medicines and treatments, and care for people when they are unwell and need some help. It’s an honour to play a part in their education and career paths.
What technology advances have changed the way you teach?
Technologies in anatomy teaching are accelerating at an astonishing rate. There are now 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies that we can use inside our anatomy labs to bring the teaching alive. Likewise these same technologies, including 3D scans and 3D printing, are increasingly being used in specialist training – for robotic surgery for example. By bringing some of this technology into our undergraduate anatomy teaching, we are setting up our students for their futures in healthcare.
What cutting-edge facilities and technologies at the School help you break new territory?
In the anatomy space, we use 3D scanners to digitise our anatomical specimens so they can be accessed by students to learn from anywhere, at any time. This really is a game changer since students can typically only access the anatomy labs for a handful of hours over the course of their subjects. We also have Sectra tables, which allow students to use 3D renderings of CT and MRI scans to gain an appreciation of the real anatomy of our bodies and how different structures relate to one another. We’ve never been able to teach this way before and it’s giving our students a huge advantage in their learning.
How do you share your work and knowledge with the next generation?
The first, and main way, is through my teaching. I have designed some Masterclasses for my undergraduate students where I invite experts in the field to share the very latest in research with our students. They also have the opportunity to work through some challenging problems and cases with the experts to guide their hypotheses. I’m also a very enthusiastic science communicator and take every opportunity to speak at events like Nerd Night and Pint of Science. These events invite science experts to speak to the public, often young people, about their work and the latest and greatest things they’ve done in the field. It’s so much fun!
What is your advice to anyone interested in Biomedical Sciences?
My advice would be to absolutely go for it. This is such an exciting field with a lot of different kinds of opportunities to do what you love. There are no shortages of big challenges that you can help to solve and no better place to contribute to bettering your community, the global population and the planet.
What is your favourite pursuit outside of work?
On the invitation of a colleague I recently undertook a 30Km walk on the Mornington Peninsula in support of Beyond Blue. I love that it allows you to get out and connect in a really meaningful way with the outdoors. I think this opportunity to be separate from your normal working environment and get out into green space is such an important boost for your mental health.
Meet Dr Charlotte Clark
Teaching Specialist and Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Physiology
What was the driving factor to becoming a biomedical scientist?
My undergraduate studies were guided by my interests – human anatomy, biomedical statistics, biological anthropology, developmental biology and neuroscience. I was also interested in other non-biomed topics, such as maths, French, and art history, so I also studied these subjects. We didn’t have ‘breadth’ at The University of Otago, where I did my undergrad, but we had flexibility to take subjects of interest.
I still had many questions after completing my bachelors degree so the logical progression was to do Honours, and then a Master of Science and then a PhD.
Is there such a thing as a traditional pathway to where you are now?
I did follow a fairly traditional pathway up to getting my PhD, but then I had a family at a relatively young age for academia. This opened up the possibilities of me working part-time post PhD and I was fortunate to find fantastic part-time teaching opportunities that eventually led to me getting a full-time teaching specialist position.
What is your education philosophy?
My educational philosophy is to inspire my students to achieve their goals. I am not so interested in trying to tell my students everything I know and hoping they remember some of it. What I try and do is help students obtain enough specific knowledge to help them formulate their own questions and then try and find the answers to them themselves. My goal is for my students to have many more questions about biomedical science after completing my subjects than they had at the start.
This is not always easy to achieve and different students require different types of support and guidance in this process. Therefore I design learning activities that are varied and have elements of flexibility to them.
What impact do you hope your teaching will have?
My students are the future biomedical scientists, health professionals and many will become national and global leaders. I take great pride in helping to develop these essential members of society. An incredibly rewarding aspect of my teaching is hearing from my students once they have achieved a particular goal in the future, such as being accepted into a medical programme, getting a job at a large pharmaceutical company or starting or completing postgraduate studies.
What challenges do you face and how are you working to overcome them?
There will never not be a need for biomedical science. Our graduates need to be knowledgeable but, more importantly, also skilled in knowing how and when to apply their knowledge and when to seek further knowledge. As a society we need to be vigilant and agile, curious and caring, enthusiastic and forgiving. I try and encourage my students to develop these attributes.