Land Down Under

Gator Nurse Goes InteRNational!

Assistant Professor Marion Bendixen, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC will be spending the season on a travel grant in Australia. Learn about her travels below!

nurses walk

Week 7

While it’s great to be home, I miss Australia and all the wonderful people who I got to work with. Thank you for following my journey!

Ocean Goodbye

During my transit back to the U.S., we visited Melbourne and drove the ‘Great Ocean Highway’ along the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait coast of Victoria. We got to the 12 Apostles early morning before the tour buses arrived to see these magnificent pillars that the ocean carved out of limestone over 10 million years ago. On Phillip Island, which is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world, we saw and experienced the Little Penguin Parade as these seabirds waddled from the sea, up the hillside and then into their burrows – amazing! (Look closely to see a baby penguin in a burrow!)

Thank you, UWA!

Thank you to Dr. Geddes and The Human Lactation Research Group for the good bye luncheon at the Uni Club. Notice our new T-shirts to promote the ABREAST conference (Australian Breastfeeding + Lactation Research and Science Translation)! We also may get to share our collaborative research this November. Afterwards, the Gator Nursing souvenir went home with Omobolaji Adewuyi to Nigeria. But no goodbye at UWA would be complete without a photo of the Black Swans ever present in Matilda Bay!

Week 6

Collaboration Celebration


I attended a global  International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation networking event alongside three recipients of the 2021 and 2022 ISRHML/Family Larsson Rosenquist Foundation TEP-TTF grant. These individuals work and collaborate at UWA’s Geddes Hartman Human Lactation Research Group. I look forward to starting to make my way back to the United States soon!

Microbiology Lab

I visited the University of Western Australia’s microbiology labs at King Eddie’s Hospital. To process samples for microbiome analysis, there are three adjacent labs that go from least to most sterile, as well as three different lab coats. These are very rigorous standards!

Matagarup Bridge

Matagarup Bridge (pictured here) represents the  First Nation peoples crossing of the Swan River. The flowing arches represent a pair of black and white swans or the Wagyl, a water serpent that is of great importance to local Noongar culture. Additionally, the black swan is the symbol of Perth and the University of Western Australia. Of course, we could not just walk across Matagarup Bridge, we also climbed up and over the top at twilight and rode the zipline down in the dark, which was exhilarating!

Week 5

Joey Cuteness

At Caversham Wildlife Park in Perth, you can not get enough of joey cuteness! I was able to see a joey jump into a mother kangaroo’s pouch, as well as a koala and its joey!

Continued Collaborations


I was honored to shadow and share in the care of new breastfeeding families with Sharon Perrella, PhD, RN, RM-IBCLC. It is amazing to see how similar breastfeeding difficulties are “down under.” Dr. Perrella is a Research Fellow with Geddes Hartman Human Lactation Research Group and integrates the teams research into the practice model. I am looking forward to our continued collaboration!

what a view!

Perth CBD

I was able to visit London Court Alleyway in Perth’s central business district/downtown. It felt like i was stepping into Diagon Alley from one of my favorite books!

Week 4

So many pipettes!


In one day, I use these various pipette instruments to dilute drops of milk, or add buffers, acids, enzymes and reagents to prepare sample plates for analysis. Amazing!

Midwifery Meet

It was wonderful to meet with Midwifery Clinical Educator Jamie Heglund, RN, and her colleagues at St. John of God Subiaco Hospital. Mothers and infants stay and this hospital an average of five to seven days. It was such a unique concept to see a double hospital bed for families to stay together.

By the shore

We were able to spend some time diving and snorkeling at Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage Site located off the coast of Western Australia! We hoped to see a whale shark and although we did not see any in the water, we were able to snorkel with a manta ray and see a pod of humpback whales!

Week 3


I attended my very first rugby game with other University of Western Australia staff members! It was exciting, fantastic night of rugby as we took home the win and I enjoyed a celebration with new friends.

Research Roundup

Over two days, my colleagues and I allocated out and bar coded almost 2000 human milk samples for our research study: “The associations of human milk oestrogens and progesterone with milk production and their effects on infant growth, development, and health.” This project may provide reference data on oestrogen and progesterone hormone concentrations in human milk and determine if these are associated with milk production!

friendly Faces


I was introduced to Dr.Gino Marinucci, Director of Life Sciences at  the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation for Western Australia, I found out he is quite familiar with UF! He worked for the CDC in Atlanta, where he was adopted as a Georgia Bulldogs fan. He was meeting with researchers and touring our facilities to support the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre in Biomedical Analysis team that collaborates with Dr. Geddes. Thank you for supporting training and collaboration! (L to R: Me, Drs. Ching Lai, Gino Marinucci, and Donna Geddes).

Week 2

Rotte Island

Dr. Bendixen traveled to Rottnest Island, a nature reserve off the coast of Western Australia that is home to friendly, super cute Quakkas! Early Dutch explorers mistook Quokkas for large rats, and named the island “Rotte Nest,” which translates to “Rats Nest.” She also enjoyed snorkeling in the island’s blue water, where she saw fur seals, lots of fish, but no sharks — thankfully!

The Coronation

Dr. Bendixen was also able to watch King Charles’ coronation live in Perth and was also able to sign the coronation book at the Western Australia Government House to record well wishes for King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla!

Returning ‘home’

Finally, Dr. Bendixen returned to her summer semester university home: The University of Western Australia (clocktower on the left) and the School of Molecular Science! She will be working as a visiting faculty member as part of the Geddes Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group.

Week 1

Sydney’s Sights

Dr. Bendixen recently touched down in the land ‘down under!’ Her first sights of Australia included panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. Did you know the sails, or roof, of the Opera House are made out of beige-colored tiles?

Australia’s Wildlife

Dr. Bendixen also had the chance to have close encounters with some of Australia’s wildlife! Despite the rain, the koalas and kangaroos at Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park did not mind the weather!

Nurses walk

nurses walk

Her first hotel stay was spent in a historical building located on the “Nurses Walk,” named after Sydney’s first hospital! The Nurses Walk was created by a network of passageways for nurses and others to travel between the area’s hospitals and residential areas. Shift change was once an amazing site of flowing nurses’ uniforms!

After four full days in Sydney, Dr. Bendixen traveled to the other side of the continent to begin her lab work in Perth. Stay tuned for more news!