My Melbourne with Jodie McVernon

August 13 / 116

My Melbourne with Jodie McVernon
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What is your role at the University?

I've been employed in the Vaccine and Immunisation Research group here since 2005 and I'm deputy head of that group. I'm involved in some clinical trials in Epidemiology research on infectious diseases, mainly in children. I also head up a modeling and simulation group, so we do work with policy related to infectious disease control and also look at basic ways in which infectious diseases are spread using mathematical and computational models.

How would you describe your typical day at work?

It involves a lot of meetings, so I spend a lot of time talking to people. A lot of that is because a lot our work is cross-disciplinary. So I could be talking to basic biologists, I could be talking to urban planners, I could be talking to sociologists. I talk to a whole range of people about different things. It's really important to have those relationships and to find out the information we need to make our models realistic.

What would you say is the most interesting part of your role?

I think the interesting thing is that variety. I really like the fact that I started life as a pediatrician and I got interested in infectious diseases because of children and vaccines. I end up talking to people in defense science or animal health or urban planning, which is something I never ever imagined being abel to do.

Is there something your colleagues might not know about you?

Well, my claim to fame was when I was 8, I won the Pam Ayres Poetry Competition. I wrote a poem about food, teeth and the dentist. So I have a literary side.

What book have you read recently?

At the moment, I've just finished 'TransAtlantic' by Colum McCann. He does a great job of weaving together, very loosely but very lightly, a whole range of stories about the United States and Ireland and spans a century. It's a great book.

Have you received any great advice you'd like to share?

My favourite piece of advice, which one of those eight year old pieces of advice, which is 'never let a dog watch your food', which could have wider metaphorical meanings. My great advice from my PhD supervisor, I fell pregnant at the end of my PhD, was 'read teenage fiction when you have small children.'  I think that's part of being kind to yourself during a very stressful and busy part of your life. It was good advice.

What's the best part of working at the University?

I could be boring and say the coffee. I think the best thing about this University is the fact that everybody is here in one place. So for someone like me who does cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary work, there's access to a wide range of people with really diverse skills and that sets up great opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary work that just might not be achievable in other places.

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