Student Spotlight: Thimo on Queensland’s cutting-edge research opportunities
Words by Thimo Ruethers
My name is Thimo Ruethers and while I consider myself a global citizen, I’m originally from Düsseldorf, Germany. I recently completed a PhD degree at James Cook University in Townsville in Tropical North Queensland.
After finishing high school, I explored the world beyond Europe, spending a year in the Philippines as a volunteer, funded by the German Government. I completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and then embarked on a project with Professor Andreas Lopata at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, tagging and releasing sharks and rays and gathering samples to investigate the fish proteins.
I returned to Düsseldorf to complete a Master degree and while my thesis project was based in Vietnam and Austria, I continued to work with Professor Lopata at JCU, investigating the capability of fish to trigger allergies in humans. Since then, my major research topic has been about adverse reactions to food, specifically seafood allergies.
I have recently completed a PhD in Medical and Molecular Science at JCU with a scholarship from the Centre for Food & Allergy Research (CFAR), which is funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). I was the first international scholar to receive this prestigious scholarship and graduated with a PhD cum laude distinction.
Altogether, I have lived in Townsville for almost 6 years. I have had a great experience living and studying here. Townsville is a regional city, but I have still managed to surround myself with a great network of international students and other people from around the world who have chosen to settle in Townsville.
JCU has dedicated facilities for my particular research area. The Molecular Research Laboratory within the Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine at JCU is a worldwide leader in terms of investigating the triggers of seafood allergies to develop improved diagnostic and management tools adapted to the Asia Pacific region. These world-class facilities provide a great opportunity to attract research excellence to Townsville and Queensland.
During my time at JCU, I have been able to attend international conferences where I have been able to meet with fellow researchers and demonstrate that JCU really is at the cutting edge of research.
Our research group has received public and private funding towards the project. As part of my PhD project I have built relationships with government departments as well as medical doctors conducting clinical trials in Australian hospitals. In my experience, Queensland provides the ideal environment and research facilities for postgraduate study in my field.
For successful postgraduate study you need 3 things: a good working relationship with your advisory panel, passion for your research project and access to funding. Overall, I’ve had a great experience studying in Queensland and it was a good fit with my further studies and towards a future career in academic research in medical and molecular sciences.
JCU offers a world-class research environment with fantastic researchers and some really unique research happening in medical and molecular sciences. For my field, it’s about the research happening at JCU and together with its location at the centre of the Great Barrier Reef – there’s no better spot in the world.