Sammy Russell

PhD topic: Medicine (mental health)

Sammy's PhD journey

Sammy Russell's PhD research at Deakin focused on medicine, specifically mental health and understanding treatment outcomes for people with co-occurring bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Why did you decide to do a PhD?

I decided to do a PhD during my Bachelor of Health and Medical Science Honours year in the School of Medicine. I discovered the world of research and enjoyed the scientific process and curiosity it allowed me to have. The results of my Honours project spurred me on to apply for a PhD so I could answer more of my research questions, so I designed my own PhD project, and my application was accepted.

With research we can explore treatments for health conditions to ultimately provide recommendations for guidelines and clinicians to use in their practice.

Sammy Russell

Why is health and medical research important?

Health and medical research are fundamentally important to the healthcare system of Australia and to the broader knowledge of medicine internationally. With research we can explore treatments for health conditions to ultimately provide recommendations for guidelines and clinicians to use in their practice.

What support did Deakin and your supervisor provide during your PhD?

Deakin provided a scholarship throughout my candidature and also gave me opportunities to attend numerous conferences and networking events where I presented my research on the national and international stage. I have also been included in other research projects in my lab where I have learnt and developed further skills outside what my PhD can offer.

My supervisors have supported me throughout my PhD candidature, and we have very open communication. We have weekly meetings where I have the opportunity to ask questions and bounce ideas off them. My supervisors have also encouraged my interests and created opportunities for me to explore them further such as learning to code and create digital tools that help with clinical trials and medical research.

How is your research linked to industry?

The multiple skills I have learnt throughout my research are very translatable to an industry position. I have learnt how to manage numerous stakeholders including international collaborators, I have statistical and coding skills, I have completed a lot of speaking engagements to both a public-facing and research audience. Completing a PhD teaches you high-level project and time management skills which are essential in industry.

What impact will your research work have on the world?

I started my PhD to try and fill the gaps in the current medical research of people who experience more than one mental condition, specifically those who experience co-occurring bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. My research will have an impact on the world through numerous peer-reviewed articles that are published in medical and psychiatry journals.  My work also includes international collaborations and large cohort studies where I have worked closely with other researchers discussing methods and designs of studies.

What’s next? Where do you hope your PhD will take you?

I am submitting my thesis soon and I plan to apply for post-doctoral fellowship positions with my lab at Deakin. I have more research questions that I want to answer that build on my PhD. If I don’t get a fellowship I plan to work in industry where I can put my knowledge and coding skills to use working with data. If possible, I would like to continue working in academia in some capacity because I really enjoy research.

Join the Deakin research community

Study a research degree and solve today’s biggest challenges alongside our world class researchers.

Learn more about research degrees and PhDs