Favourite Thing: Finding out how things work, especially in our bodies, then writing about it or talking about it to whoever is nearby.
Guthrie St Primary School 1995-2001, Notre Dame Secondary College 2002-2007
Bachelor of Biomedical Science 2008-2010, Science Honours 2011, Monash University, Clayton
On the checkouts and in Lay-by at Target, packing books in a warehouse and in a Pathology Lab testing samples from hospital patients.
I currently work in a research Lab at Monash University, but as it is my Honours year I don’t actually get paid! I also work for the Monash Science Centre as a Presenter, going out to Primary schools to do fun and interactive science shows.
Me and my work
I study a protein that is part of our immune system. Hardly anything is known about it so I’m trying to find out what it does and where in the cell you would find it.
I’ve just finished my Science degree so I’m now doing Honours; a year when you work in a Lab on your own research project and write up a big report at the end. My project is to find out as much as I can about my protein as nobody really knows what it does, but it seems to be important for our immune system in fighting infections. I am looking at where it is inside the cell, which is not easy as it is all far too small to see with our eyes! To be able to find the protein you want you have to tag it with a fluorescent marker so that when you look at the cells through a microscope, you can see the protein glowing inside them.
I also want to find out what this protein does, so I will try to block it from working and see if the cell can still do what it’s supposed to.
I don’t know exactly how to do all these things yet as I am pretty new to research, but that’s why you do Honours. You learn the things you need to know while getting plenty of help from your supervisor and from the other people in your Lab.
My Typical Day
Go to work, do some experiments in the Lab, do some work (and play!) on my computer in the office, go home and do normal weeknight things.
I usually get into the Lab at about 9.30am. I’ll have a cup of tea, check my emails and get started on an experiment. There is usually a lot of waiting time between the steps of each experiement; 15 mins, 45 mins, an hour or more. In that time I can work on another experiment in the Lab or go into the office and work on my computer, reading reserach papers, organising my results and planning what to do next. There’s a bit of time for catching up on the online news, a bit of Facebook news, and reading a couple of blogs too!
I stay at the Lab until about 5pm, depending on when I finish what I need to do. I get to plan my own time and choose when I do things, but I have a few meetings and classes with set times that I need to attend. Most of the people in my Lab (about 15 of us) have lunch together and sometimes we’ll have a drink after work or go out for dinner. We talk a bit about science and our work, but mostly about the weekend or what’s in the news.
After work I go for a run, cook dinner, watch TV and hang out with my boyfriend (who is also a Scientist, but I met him at the Pub, not in the Lab).
What I'd do with the money
Set up a competition with The Helix science magazine for Australian high school students to get some experience in writing about science and the chance to win prizes and have their article published.
If I win, I want the money to go into something which will encourage you guys to take an interest (or more of an interest) in science. CSIROs The Helix is a science magazine for students with lots of science news, articles, experiments, and fun things for you to do. We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I would like to set up a competition for you to write fairly short science articles or stories, with a winner, or a couple of winners, to receive prizes including a subscription to The Helix and to have their article published in the magazine.
I wish there were competitions like this available for me to enter as getting your work published (or even looked at) is quite hard if you haven’t already had things published. Hopefully this would give some of you a first step in your writing careers or an interest in a particular area of science, and who doesn’t like to win things?!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Loves red shoes.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Some favourites are Snow Patrol, Gomez and Brendan Benson.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Tricky question! Probably holidays with my family and friends. Climbing Ayers Rock, the theme parks on the Gold Coast, feeding Crocodiles in Darwin.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) An all expenses paid, round-the-world holiday. 2) To write a book and have it published. 3) To own a house with a huge wardrobe and a herb garden.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Here’s the list: ballerina, marine biologist, paediatrician, Nobel-prize winning scientist, science communicator
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Not really. Which is not to say I wasn’t naughty sometimes, but a reputation of good behaviour gets you a lot of leeway.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
My first show as a science presenter. It was a Chemistry lesson for Grade 2s and I messed up one of the experiments so bicarb and vinegar exploded all over my arm, but the rest of it went well.
Tell us a joke.
What did the endothermic reaction say to the exothermic reaction? You’re so hot!