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International Women’s Day: “Don’t be shy and be confident!”

March 8 is the International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.

A great occasion to talk to Hilda On, one of the many inspiring and hard working women here at HKU-Pasteur.

HKU-PRP: What is your educational background and training?

Hilda On: I graduated with a Higher Diploma in Biotechnology from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), a local institution offering vocational education to post-secondary students in Hong Kong.

I have chosen to study in a scientific field because I think science can explain almost everything and I was always a very curious person. It's very magical world that was always very attractive to me.

HKU-PRP: How do you feel about being a “woman in science”?

Hilda On: I think in Hong Kong there is a lot of women working in science. I have always supported the idea that both male and female can perform the same, do the same work and execute the same tasks. In my direct environment at work in HKU-Pasteur I am surrounded by women in science!

Gender never was a problem for me in the area that I work so far. Everyone I have been working here was always very nice here, no matter where you come from or how successful you are.

HKU-PRP: As a female young scientist, do you have some tips to share with the younger generation/students?

Hilda On: Don't be shy and be confident. You should believe in yourself to achieve your goals!

HKU-PRP: When did you join HKU-Pasteur and why did you choose to come here?

Hilda On: I joined HKU-Pasteur as an intern in 2018 summer to work in Dr Hein Tun’s team. After this great experience I have decided to pursue the experience and I came back again as a Research Assistant, after I graduated from IVE in the summer 2019.

HKU-PRP: Can you explain the different projects you have been working on at HKU-Pasteur so far?

Hilda On: I worked on many projects since I arrived here. One of them, which has been already published, was to apply an epidemiological approach to prospectively study AMR acquisition in healthy Hong Kong travellers, in order to gain insight into the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to identify targets for prevention. I mostly do the very preliminary parts of the project, like sample collection, bacterial identification, and Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing.

And since last October, I am working on a sewage project that aims to find the COVID19 virus in sewage collection systems. It is a multidisciplinary project from HKU, involving colleagues from the Department of Civil Engineering, that study sewage samples collected in different areas around Hong Kong to perform nucleic acid tests of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The project is already a great success and has been widely covered by media.

If you want to read more motivating stories from the women at HKU-Pasteur, have a look at Qiwen Teo and Carolyn Cohen's interviews!


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