GREAT EFFORT: Maryborough's Mikaela Bell has completed a three-year Bachelor of Science degree at USC in just two years.
 Picture: Contributed
GREAT EFFORT: Maryborough's Mikaela Bell has completed a three-year Bachelor of Science degree at USC in just two years. Picture: Contributed

How COVID-19 inspired new career for young science whizz

FORMER Maryborough Riverside Christian College senior dux Mikaela Bell is fast-tracking her career in the rapidly evolving field of molecular microbiology.

Ms Bell, 19, has completed a three-year Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Sunshine Coast in just two years and earned a prestigious University Medal for Academic Excellence for a near-perfect grade point average of 6.91 out of seven.

"Squeezing in extra subjects across four semesters and studying during the summer and winter breaks was full-on but worth it to be able to major in biotechnology, genetics and microbiology and wrap up my first degree," Ms Bell said.

She is now working towards her honours degree in science through the individually tailored USC Science Deans Scholar program.

"I also used the opportunity of studying in the summer breaks to conduct a research project and complete an industry placement with a molecular diagnostics company, which gave me great insights into both."

Ms Bell is still deciding on her pathway as a scientist but says the coronavirus outbreak has provided some inspiration for her future career.

"Molecular diagnostics or testing for infectious diseases is obviously very topical with the Covid-19 pandemic and after doing an industry placement in this field, it is definitely something I am interested in after I complete honours," the talented scholar said.

"This could potentially involve working as a research and development scientist or conducting PhD research to fill a knowledge gap in this area."

Ms Bell was awarded the Thompson Excellence Scholarship when she started her studies in 2018.