Meet our 3MT® finalists in the 2020 Grand Final

Congratulations to PhD candidates Marina Župan & Samantha Davis in the School of Biomedical Sciences who made the top ten in UOM's Three Minute Thesis competition!

The University's 3MT® Grand Final took place on 13 August 2020 with a screening of the video presentations of the ten finalists and the winner announced.


Meet Marina Župan

Marina is intrigued with by molecular biology – and the elegance of the proteins and pathways that bacteria have taken to evolve – and persist - within the human body. She made the top ten list with her presentation “An unwanted house guest”.

Marina's  research focuses on a protein called AdcAII – and her project looks at exactly how the protein works. Its sole purpose is to help the pathogen S. pneumoniae get zinc when it is absolutely starved for this essential metal ion.

“We know it’s important for the ability of S. pneumoniae to cause disease but my project addresses the real nitty-gritty questions like 'how can it tell the difference between zinc and all the other metals it encounters in the human body?’, ” she says.

Marina started her PhD in 2018 at McDevitt Laboratory in Adelaide and moved to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne in 2019 when the lab relocated to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

The Department is a collaborative and supportive environment - full of vibrant and world-renowned researchers, and we are really fortunate to be exposed to such high-quality research from all directions in the biomedical precinct.

Want to watch Marina's 3MT® presentation and find out more about her research?


Meet Samantha Davis

Samantha’s interest in immunology started when learnt that her own immune system had killed off the insulin producing cells of her pancreas - resulting in Type 1 Diabetes.

The balance between the immune system protecting us from invading microbes and not hurting our own tissues is fascinating

Starting her PhD in 2019 within the Kent Laboratory (Department of Microbiology and Immunology), Samantha has studied an antibody type called IgA in the context of HIV. IgA can be found at mucosal surfaces, for example the intestines and in the blood – and at mucosal surfaces has been shown to protect against HIV. However the role of IgA in the blood is less clear.

“IgA can bind to bacteria and viruses and signal to surrounding cells to kill them but free IgA not bound to anything inhibits immune cells and switches off other receptors. This may influence the efficacy of HIV therapies,” says Samantha.

Samantha’s 3MT® presentation, "Fighting HIV: Good Cop/Bad Cop", was creened at the UOM Grand Final on 13 August.