Rebekah (Bekka) Duffin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Monash University, Australia under the guidance of Professor Phil Andrews. She holds a BSc with honours majoring in chemistry with minors in molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics.
Her research focuses on the synthesis and characterisation of group 15 and 13 metal complexes as potential medicinal therapeutic agents for the treatment of the protozoan parasite Leishmania, a devastating microbe that affects millions of people in third world tropical and sub-tropical countries. Current commercial treatments include pentavalent antimonials, which although effective are expensive to synthesise, suffer from resistance and have increased toxicity. Along with the synthesis and characterisation of these complexes, Bekka also actively takes part in the biological testing, exhibiting interdisciplinary skills. She cultures and maintains the parasitic and mammalian cell lines conducting all cell viability assays herself.
Bekka has worked as a teaching associate at Monash University for the past three years, engaging with the future generation of young chemists. She is actively involved in the education of first, second and third year chemistry students and often participates in outside teaching activities including open days and demonstrations to high school students and their teachers.
Along with an enthusiastic stance on teaching, Bekka has also taken part in the production of how-to videos for the undergraduate chemistry department, and starred in a video highlighting her own personal work as a port-graduate student in the faculty of science at Monash University. She also actively takes part in the Women in Chemistry group, attending key events and supporting her fellow female chemists as an advocate for women in STEM and equality in science.