Alumni Spotlight - Daisy Shu

Daisy Shu
BSc '12 BOptom '12
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

A bit about me...

Daisy Shu - microscope

I’m Daisy, a postdoc at Harvard Medical School studying the role of mitochondria and cellular metabolism in retinal eye diseases. I studied optometry and vision science at UNSW and since then, I’ve been obsessed with our eyes and the visual system.

After graduating, I worked as a clinical optometrist for two years before deciding to pursue a PhD in eye research. Many of the patients I saw in practice presented with cataract, a clouding of the lens in our eyes and as such, I was eager to explore how cataract forms and how we can prevent them from forming. This became the foundation of my PhD thesis which I completed in the Lens Research Laboratory at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Professor Frank Lovicu.

After finishing my PhD, I hopped on a plane and made my way over to Boston, Massachusetts to start my postdoc at Harvard Medical School in the Saint-Geniez Lab where I currently am. Here, I study the mechanisms underlying age-related macular degeneration, another leading cause of blindness worldwide.

In addition to my love for science, I also love science communication and sharing my research findings and science career journey on social media (@EyeDaisyShu on Instagram and Twitter) as well as through a podcast which I co-host called “Behind our Science” (@BehindOurScience on Instagram) where we highlight the stories behind scientists and their exciting scientific discoveries.

Quick fire Q&A

Daisy Shu - centrifuge

1. Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?  

“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure” - Joseph Campbell. Sometimes what you think is a hindrance, may actually be the best thing that ever happened to you.


2. What are you reading/listening to?  

I’m currently reading a novel called “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I recently got into gardening and this novel has really made me appreciate flowers even more, particularly the hidden messages behind different flowers.


3. What advice would you give a student approaching the end of their degree?  

As much as the last few months of your degree can be quite stressful with deadlines left, right and centre, I would definitely have told my younger self to enjoy these final months a bit more. Take a moment to appreciate campus life, hang out with your uni friends on the library lawn, grab a coffee from the coffee cart and just chill for a bit.


4. How do you remain resilient in your line of work?  

I tell myself to keep on keeping on.


5. What recent habit(s) has improved or changed your life?  

Including a bit of physical exercise into my day most days of the week whether it be going for a jog along the Charles River esplanade or going for a swim at my local pool, it really helps clear my mind.


6. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today? 

My time at UNSW had a huge impact on shaping who I am today and my love for vision science. In optometry school at UNSW, I gained a strong appreciation for the eye and visual system from the intricate anatomy of my ocular tissues to how they all work together to enable us to see. During my optometry degree, I was fortunate to be awarded a UNSW Summer Vacation Research Scholarship which I did under the mentorship of Dr. Michele Madigan where I got my first taste of lab work. I got to put on gloves, examine ocular cells under the microscope and run experiments for the first time and I became hooked on research, the discovery of new unknowns about the eye and contributing to the scientific literature.


7. What was your most memorable experience from your time at UNSW?

My most memorable experience at UNSW would have to be O-Week. I love the atmosphere, checking out all the stalls, participating in fun events, signing up to cool societies and of course, the freebies.