Dr Garth Maker, an award-winning biochemistry lecturer and researcher from Murdoch University, is using his research to shape the way consumers, healthcare professionals and governments can better regulate the herbal and complementary medicine industries.
Graduating from Murdoch in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Marine Science and Biological Sciences, Dr Maker made the decision to swap the sea for a laboratory when he discovered his love for biochemistry.
“I am passionate about science, biochemistry in particular, and my job allows me to contribute to the development of new knowledge in this field, and to share my passion with others through teaching.
“I am also committed to ensuring that what we teach is current and relevant, to help students be ready for the workplace and to help students understand why the chemistry of the body is so fascinating, and how understanding it better, can benefit all of us.”
Completing his PhD in Biochemistry at Murdoch in 2007, Dr Maker believes that one of the most important traits a student can have when embarking on their studies is to be curious.
“This is what drives us to learn more about ourselves and the world, and it is definitely true in this field.”
Research making a social change
Named as a recipient of the prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards in 2016, and receiving a National Health and Medical Research Council grant in 2014, Dr Maker’s research into the safety and regulation of herbal medicines has helped address a major issue in public health.
“Talking about our work on herbal medicines has really made me think about what we can achieve from this work, and has led us to change some of the questions that we ask, to maximise the potential benefit for consumers and patients.”
As part of their research, Dr Maker and his team carried out toxicological analysis using mass spectrometry to detect pharmaceuticals and potential toxins that may have been present in herbal products.
“We are extremely fortunate to have one of the best equipped, most cutting-edge mass spectrometry labs in Australia right here at Murdoch, and it provides us with access to the tools we need to push the boundaries of what can be done with biochemistry.”
Dr Maker has been active in speaking about his research in the media and the community, and is regularly involved in the student engagement and recruitment activities of Murdoch University.
“Biochemistry is a diverse discipline… a discipline with something for everyone."
As my research is in the same field as my teaching, I bring the latest research findings directly to the classroom, and can ensure that we are training our students with the skills that they need for today’s workplace.
Dr Maker’s top 5 tips for making the most of your university experience
1. Enjoy it
University is an opportunity to study something you are passionate about, with lots of other students who share your passion. It is a very stimulating environment, and you can have a lot of fun.
2. Find your passionIt might be biochemistry (good choice) or it might be history, but find the thing that fascinates you, engages you and compels you to learn more. And then make a career of that, because you’ll never be bored!
3. Don't stress
If you can’t find your passion straight away, don’t worry. Sometimes it takes a couple of years before you find the subject that really grabs your attention and won’t let go. Just because you don't click with study straight away, doesn’t mean it’s not for you. There are so many areas to explore, don’t be afraid to search until you find it.
4. Work hardThis might seem obvious, but the people who really want to achieve a career goal, and who work hard, are the ones who get there. We have graduates working in amazing careers all over the world, and they didn’t just get there by luck, there was a lot of hard work involved, too!
5. Ask for help
So many people forget that universities are full of people who are here to help you. If you need advice, be it on your first or your last day, or anywhere in between, then ask!