Himani Nailwal

Monash sets you apart

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Science (started 2014)

1. Full name, age, nationality.

Himani Nailwal / 27 / Indian.


2. Degree studied.

PhD in the School of Science. 


3. If you were on a scholarship or received awards, please specify what they are.

HDR scholarship from the School of Science, Monash University Malaysia.

Postgraduate research travel scholarship, Monash University Malaysia.


4. Describe your current major, or the current focus of your research thesis.

I am a PhD scholar under the supervision of Dr. Sunil K Lal. My PhD research topic is, “To study molecular biology of host – influenza virus interaction and pathogenesis of influenza virus”. Influenza A Virus (IAV) is the most important disease causing virus and belongs to the group of highly pathogenic RNA viruses and requires an intricate regulatory network of viral and cellular proteins to accomplish successful replication. Deciphering the host proteins that are of key importance to the virus for efficient replication and pathogenesis paves the way for developing promising target for anti-viral intervention. Our study unravels a novel strategy adopted by IAV for utilising the much conserved ubiquitin proteasomal pathway and also an attractive antiviral developing target. This study has recently been published in the highly impactful journal Cell Death and Disease (Nature Publishing Group) with an impact factor of 5.17.


5. Why did you choose Monash Malaysia?

I was a PhD scholar in India when my supervisor decided to move to Monash Malaysia to join as a professor in the School of Science. It was an easy decision and a great opportunity for me to be a part of a world-renowned university, part of the Australian G8 universities and ranked in world’s top 100 universities. 


6. While at Monash, what type of opportunities did you participate in?

Monash Malaysia provided me with myriad of opportunities to network and build up a scientific aptitude. I will be travelling to Hong Kong to attend the prestigious HKU-Pasteur Virology Course 2015 to be held in Hong Kong University. My travel was sponsored by the campus through the postgraduate research travel subsidy. 

Various seminars held in the School of Science opened the way for scientific collaborations as well as inter-university and intra-university networking. 


7. How has your postgraduate experience been at Monash?

My PhD degree from Monash has so far been my biggest learning experience. It has shaped my career. In terms of infrastructure, Monash is well-equipped and has modern machines like HPLC, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Confocal Microscope, Flow Cytometer, and quantitative real time PCR to aid all science postgraduate students in producing great projects and high impact research. Being a research student, it’s important to have access to all the latest technologies in the field. We have an actively running animal tissue culture facility in the School of Science that lets us run our experiments on different cell lines, including mammalian ones, according to the need of the hour. Monash also has a series of lectures and different industry-based activities for the benefit of all their students. I have had a really good experience with supervisors and technical staff in terms of both collaborations and access to different facilities. Everyone is cordial and Monash has a well-managed system.


8. Why did you choose to do a postgraduate degree? What were the benefits and challenges that came with studying in a postgraduate course?

Biological science has appealed to me from my early academic years and this fascination persuaded me to take up biology as my prime subject throughout my Bachelor’s and Master’s. To further broaden my horizons, I joined Professor Sunil K Lal as a PhD student. There has been quite a few ups and downs during my PhD journey, but it has only made me more assured about a career in research and development. Holding a PhD degree from a well-reputed university like Monash sets you apart from the herd and opens different doors of opportunities, providing you quite a number of options to choose from, such as industrial research and academic research, to name a few.


9. What did you love the most about your student life at Monash? 

I have met people from various countries and backgrounds which has given me new perspectives. The amalgamation of various cultures here is great. It is truly an international campus. The campus is very student-friendly. It’s really nice to see different activities going on in the campus and be a part of such a lively atmosphere.


10. If you are an international student, how did you adapt to life in Monash Malaysia and Malaysia in general? Were there any particular pleasant experiences or challenges?

There have been many pleasant experiences, both on campus and off it, in Malaysia. Malaysians are very generous and kind people and always ready to help. As an international student, everyone helped me to settle down. Even for my research, my colleagues helped a lot, be it borrowing a reagent or setting up the lab. 


11. As an international student, how did you find the support networks here? Would you have some tips for other international students, especially from your country, intending to study in Monash Malaysia?

Support networks here are very helpful. When I reached Malaysia, I was received at the airport and safely dropped at my hostel by the Monash University International Student Services. The orientation was also very informative. I would say you feel at peace even after coming to a new country because most of the things are taken care of by the Monash student services. Monash Malaysia is a great option for Indian students like me because of the cultural diversity at Monash.


12. What is your advice to current Monash Malaysia students?

We must be a learner all our lives. Self-education is the best education that creates a learned mind.