Club Melbourne Fellowship winner Associate Professor Sarah Spencer

December 2016

Associate Professor Sarah Spencer of RMIT University becomes first recipient of Club Melbourne Fellowship.

When Sarah Spencer found out she won the Club Melbourne fellowship, she said it came as a surprise.

“It was definitely a surprise. The funding situation in Australia is very competitive for any type of grant or fellowship, so I was excited just to be shortlisted.”

2016 marked the first time a Club Melbourne Fellowship was awarded. The program was launched in celebration of Club Melbourne’s 10th anniversary and aims to support the next generation of Melbourne’s research leaders and potential Club Melbourne Ambassadors.

Associate Professor Sarah Spencer looks on track to be just that as she edged out other applicants to be bestowed with the Fellowship. The Fellowship comes with a number of career benefits, including invitations to all Club Melbourne main events, the chance to present at a Club Melbourne event, and $10,000 funding.

“The fellowship allows me to network with the fantastic group of ambassadors currently in the program, an opportunity I’m tremendously excited about. As a mid-career researcher, it is important for me to develop my national and international reputation, so this fellowship will be very important for that,” Sarah said.

But more than that, it gives Sarah opportunities that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“This funding will support my trip to Colorado to collaborate in person with Assistant Professor Ruth Barrientos, as well as supporting my trip to The Society of Neuroscience (SFN) to present at the symposium,” Sarah said.

Neuroscience 2016
One of the requirements of the Fellowship is that the recipient must attend an international conference.

Sarah decided on SFN’s Neuroscience 2016, which annually brings together scientists and physicians to discuss the latest developments in neuroscience.

Neuroscience 2016 recently took place in San Diego. As well as it being pertinent to her research, Sarah was invited to present there. The work she presented involved the impairments in learning and memory. Sarah discussed how learning and memory deficits are likely to be due to dysfunction of one of the major immune cell populations in the brain, microglia.

By Sarah’s account, the presentation went well with a great turn out and lots of networking occurring afterwards, which she considered to be the most significant take away from the conference.

“Probably the biggest long-term impact for me will be the connections I made and reinforced with the other speakers in my symposium,” Sarah said.

Associate Professor Sarah Spencer is well on her way to becoming one of Melbourne’s top research leaders, and the Fellowship has been invaluable to her career progression.