Welcome Dr Dianne Ruka- ARMI’s Newest Institute Manager!

09 May,2024

Welcome Dr Dianne Ruka- ARMI’s Newest Institute Manager!

ARMI would like to warmly welcome Dr Dianne Ruka who has been recently appointed as Institute Manager! Dianne joins us with extensive experience in the higher education sector, including nine years with Monash University, having previously worked in the role of Centre Manager of the ARC Training Centre for Cell and Tissue Engineering Technologies within the Faculty of Engineering.

“I have always loved and worked in science, research, science communication and outreach. My career journey has been all over the place…I’ve always just taken opportunities in science wherever they emerged,” Dianne commented.

After completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree from the University of Melbourne, Dianne worked in a genetics lab as research assistant mapping the sheep genome, but switched gears to education and became a science and maths secondary school teacher. After a few years of inspiring young minds in the classroom, Dianne undertook a PhD at CSIRO and Monash University, where her project focused on using bacterial cellulose fibres to create biodegradable plastics. From then, Dianne combined her love for science, education and outreach, managing outreach programs and training for several different Monash University-led initiatives.

Speaking of her passion for science education and communication, Dianne recalls her time at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies, “When I worked for the Centre of Excellence, FLEET, I used to enjoy designing and building demos to use for outreach and sci comms. I created a magnetic track in the shape of a Mobius strip (the FLEET logo) that we could use to demo how a superconductor would hover above it. It is still by far my favourite demo.”

Dianne’s skill, knowledge and talent covers a spectrum of the sciences, having studied maths and physics during her early university years. She explains, “I decided I wanted to try psychology and I’d heard biology went really well with that. The course advisor told me to take chemistry as well because otherwise I’d limit my options if I wanted to continue with biology. I thought he was crazy but agreed. It turned out, he was right. I loved biology and went on to study biochemistry, genetics, immunology and microbiology.” With that broad interest, Dianne finds a deep fascination with regenerative medicine and stem cell research, and also a personal connection. “My mum has been the biggest influence in my life and she was super excited to hear I’d be working in regenerative medicine due to her Parkinsons’ Disease.”

While Dianne feels that coming into an established institute will be a challenge, as she’s always been involved in the establishing of a program or entity, she believes that her keen organisation skills and her self-proclaimed “data nerd” persona (“…with a love for spreadsheets and an unfulfilled desire to be an accountant, which is why I always volunteer to score cricket, I love it when all the stats balance”) will be a high value addition to ARMI.

Already juggling a busy personal life, with three children (“I spend most of my weekends on a sports field watching kid’s rugby union, AFL and netball, or cricket if it’s summer”), a big family (“I have three brothers but my parents also took in a lot of foster kids, some of whom just became part of the family”) and trips to New Zealand (“married to a Kiwi so we tend to holiday in NZ”), Dianne will undoubtedly have no issues navigating the hustle and bustle of ARMI’s labs and corridors.

Welcome Dianne!

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