QAEHS in Focus: Summer Xia

2 Sep 2019

QAEHS in Focus shines the spotlight on QAEHS staff and students to showcase the expertise and talent within our Centre.

Summer Xia

How long have you worked at QAEHS?

2 years

How do you explain your job to people?

I usually would say that I am doing environmental health research at UQ. If people continue to ask or they are research people as well, I would continue to explain that I am doing several different projects. One is related to occupational health, which is to screen Chinese traditional medicine for silicosis (a lung decease). Another one is looking at the toxic effects of micro(nano)plastics using human cells. Also, I am interested in risk assessment of metals in the environment.

What is your favourite thing about working at QAEHS?

I think the atmosphere is great. People take their research seriously but they certainly have their sense of humour. Also, it is quite supportive that people like to help each other. Besides, I also enjoy the flexible work arrangement here.

What is something you learned in the last week?

Cell conditions can have significant effects on bioassay results. Maintaining the same living condition for cells will improve repeatability massively.

What has been your career path that led to your current position at QAEHS?

I completed my bachelor degree in environmental engineering in China. After that, I came to Australia to do PhD at Entox (which is now known as QAEHS). My PhD project was to assess exposure risks of mixed metal(loid)s in soils using in-vitro methods. Soil chemistry, ICP-MS/OES and bioaccessibility were my main fields with cell culture and bioassay played a small part in my study. After PhD, I stayed in the same lab for other projects. However, my current research mainly focuses on screening medicines that have the potential to prevent silicosis, which is quite different from my previous experience. But I managed to learn new skills (mainly molecular biology techniques) for my current research. I am not sure where my career is heading to, but I believe it is always a great opportunity to learn more. 

What research are you working on now?

I am working on screening Chinese herbal medicines which can help to prevent silicosis as well as the underlying molecular mechanism.  In vitro toxicity of micro(nano)plastics in human lung cells is another area I am working at. In addition, I am helping PhD students to develop metal quantification method using ICP-MS/OES.

What is your favourite movie?

There are many movies I like. I am thinking it right now which one is my favourite…I probably would pick ‘Titanic’.

Random fact you would like to share about yourself.

First time I ate avocado, I felt the taste was so weird that I threw up. But now I love it!