Researcher spotlight: Dr Baboucarr Lowe

3 Apr 2020

Each month the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences shines the spotlight on a researcher. This month they caught up with Dr Baboucarr Lowe, Postgraduate Research Fellow within the UQ School of Dentistry.

Baboucarr LoweWhat are your key research interests?

In my work, I use materials of biological origin or synthetic materials which are engineered at the micro- or nanoscale level, and then combined with stem cells, to create biocompatible scaffolds for regenerating tissues. I am particularly interested in using this method for large bony defects. My key interest is understanding how the process is orchestrated, especially how aspects of the materials drives the behaviour of the stem cells towards the end goal of regeneration. The better that I can decode what is happening, the more I can shape it to optimise regenerative outcomes.

Can you share some of your career highlights so far?

I completed my undergraduate training at the University of The Gambia in Africa, and then undertook a Master of Science degree at Pukyong National University in South Korea. Later, I was a visiting researcher at Tokyo University, Japan. I am currently a PhD student in the School of Dentistry. As part of my PhD, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston, to complete some aspects of the project there. It’s been a journey of education and research, filled with exciting new experiences and research partnerships.

What aspects do you enjoy most about your work?

My work is quite multidisciplinary, which exposes me to wide range of themes and issues to look into. In the process of working in tissue engineering and biomaterials, I have acquired different skills which I can apply to tackle problems. This makes my work quite fun, as I like thinking outside of the box and coming up with new ideas.

I also like that my work has meaning, since it fits into a broader theme within medical research, to address pressing medical challenges, going beyond repair to regeneration. It fills my heart to know that what I am working on could one day change someone’s life for the better. This gives me the energy and motivation to keep going!

Has your career taken you to any interesting, far-flung locations?

My research career has taken me from Africa to Asia and the USA and Australia. Coming from The Gambia, this means I have travelled to some of the farthest points on Earth from where I began my life as a scientist. It is quite amazing!

What inspired you to pursue a career in academia?

Academic life comes with great and lofty ideals. It bring the opportunity to grow one’s perspectives and get a better idea of what is happening, and then to pass that on by nurturing others, through mentorship and guidance. It is quite fulfilling to see how someone can grow to reach their full potential. In addition, I am naturally a very curious person, always asking questions and (sometimes) finding answers. This quest to understand I feel is at the heart of academia, and what makes a career in academia so attractive to me.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a research career?

Once you have defined your core interest(s), make the best use of all the opportunities at your disposal. Remember, there will be challenges, but you must be prepared to tackle them. You will come out stronger, more resilient and even better prepared to tackle even more complex problems.

Endeavour to learn from your friends and colleagues, and then pass on to others what you know and share your experiences. Embrace new perspectives from others on your own research areas, because this will contribute to your development and to research success.

Never limit yourself, when it comes to thinking about how much you can do. Research is hard work, but it is also fun, exciting and satisfying.

What are your interests outside of work? 

I like to play soccer and write poetry. I like nature trail-walks and photography.

What do you enjoy most about living in Brisbane?

I like parks, restaurants and gorgeous city views. It is great to meet another people from different parts of the world and learn from a cultural experience