What interested you in science as a child?
When I was younger I remember always wanting to know why. So many everyday occurrences seemed such a mystery to me and I wanted to find out how and why everything worked. Through school I was always interested in science but I wasn’t really sure if it was my thing.
During year 11 I decided I was sick of studying arts based subjects and decided to pursue science. I enrolled in chemistry, environmental science and biology. Studying these subjects opened my eyes to ‘how things work’ and I became inspired to go on to university and study science. I have always been interested in Antarctica and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to go there. I figured that being a scientist would one day allow me to get there.
What did you study at university?
While studying science at college I had a moment of inspiration to become an environmental lawyer and save the world! Once I got to uni I very quickly realised that studying law wasn’t for me. So I pursued my interests in plant science, physical geography and oceanography. I quickly became fascinated with all different forms of plants, particularly algae and developed a strong interest in the natural world in general. I have never really had a definite goal while at university, I just wanted to learn more about the natural world and become better educated on issues that I was passionate about. University really opened my eyes to the world and helped me to realise that no particular issue is black and white.
After I graduated the obvious thing for me to do was to enrol in Honours. Algae are integral in all aquatic systems, both marine and freshwater, by providing food and oxygen for other organisms and certain types of algae can even help produce a certain gas that forms clouds. It is also amazing to think that algae growing in and under ice in the polar oceans are responsible for large amounts of the production of food and oxygen in these areas. All this from single cells that we need a microscope to see!
What is your current research/career?
For my Honours research project I am studying the growth habits of a type of algae called diatoms which basically form brown slime on objects that have been immersed in water for a while. This is of particular concern for aquatic based industry as growth of this algae can slow ships down, interfere with normal function of machinery, block pipes, slow down water in canals, in fact the problems are many and varied!
What do you love about science?
I have learnt that to be a scientist you need to be flexible and creative. When a method someone else has had success with just doesn’t work, it is up to you to modify methods and find ways of making difficult things happen. I really enjoy the challenge of adapting to working on a problem no one has really studied before. When I get results, it’s good to know that I’m probably the first person to understand this particular aspect of the world!