'Women of Bio21' Profiles - Yan Hong Tan


Yan Hong Tan, Melbourne Protein Characterisation & ACRF Facility for Innovative Cancer Drug Discovery, acting Centre Manager

Tell us about your work? 

As acting Centre Manager, my role is to lead and manage the operation of the platform facility including the project management of the facility renovation and equipment procurement, financial planning, and safety management.

What did you want to be growing up?

I had always been fascinated with biology when I was in high school. I still remember my first hands-on biology experiment as a group activity was to dissect a frog to understand the anatomy.  After getting more experience with different science experiments at high school, I hoped to become a scientist.

A key challenge you’ve faced?

Leaving home and starting a new life is never easy. When I moved to Australia for study, I was very lucky to have my elder sister with me, who helped me to adapt to the new environment in a short period of time.

My second move to London was a real challenge for me. I learnt to start my life and career by myself. My ‘Lucky Star’ is always by my side!  I had great support from my supervisor, Professor Jake Baum, and good friends that I met in London.  I become more courageous and resilient by overcoming the challenges and obstacles I faced. This journey of self-transformation has built my inner strength.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My career transition from research assistant to laboratory manager has taken a lot of effort, strength and skill to achieve. I was privileged with the opportunity to lead and manage the laboratory relocation from Australia to London and laboratory set-up in London. Seeing the laboratory members commence work in the safe workplace and reading the research publications they’d done in the lab, I was really excited.

This journey not only strengthened my interpersonal skills, learning to interact with different personality types, but it also taught me to explore beyond my comfort zone. You will never know your potential until you try and learn!

What do you hope for women in STEM?

I hope to see more support for the participation of women in STEM in leadership and management roles.  A visible role model and mentorship program would be helpful to enlighten and inspire more women to have courage to face their challenges and to be more self-confident.

I am grateful to my mentors, Kirsty Turner and Joseph Pereira, who are always willing to share their valuable experience and life wisdom with me. I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to step into the managerial role till my skills and knowledge were perfect. My mentors’ support and guidance have encouraged me to grab the opportunity when it comes. More importantly, they have taught me to be open-minded to develop myself.

Who inspires you most?

My parents are my great inspiration. They are always positive and never give up trying to master any situation. To achieve success in every matter of life, they use their utmost effort with strong persistence. They have made me understand how to find the little ray of happiness in different situations. They treat everyone with kindness and respect without the expectation of getting something in return. To me, their attitude, as well as their passion and simplicity is my pillar of strength.

What is your passion outside of work?

I love travelling to explore the culture and landscapes within Australia and in other countries.  During my travels, I enjoy meeting with new friends and listening to different people’s life stories. This reminds me to treasure and to enjoy every moment I have.