Meet Our Mentors Perth 2018!

We will be showcasing some of the 100 Women in STEM Mentors who will be attending this event over the coming weeks.

Forensic Chemist

Kari is attending Session 1 of our National Science Week Event.

PittsKari is a Forensic Chemist at ChemCentre. We asked her to tell us more about what a Forensic Chemist does.

“My typical day involves analysing trace evidence using chemical techniques for criminal matters. I use a wide range of instruments for a wide range of evidence types, from arson debris to zircons. I issue reports, liaise with police, defence lawyers and prosecutors, and testify in trials as an expert witness if required.

I’m often asked if Forensic Chemistry is like CSI. I am like the lab workers in CSI – I do all the analysis for my specialty. I get to use my chemical knowledge and scientific and I get to help society by contributing to the justice system. But no, I don’t normally go to crime scenes, I don’t interview suspects and I don’t know everything about every area that happens to be needed. It would be good to be able to finish a case in an hour though!”

Aquaculture Research Scientist

aislingAisling is attending Session 2 of our National Science Week event.

Aisling is a PhD Student at Curtin University working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. We asked her to share a bit about what she does, and how she came to study climate change & aquaculture.

“I spend the day culturing algae, looking after scallops, oysters, lobsters, and abalone, building aquaculture systems, and running experiments where I try to make baby abalone or determine how future climate change is going to impact abalone. During nice weather, I can also spend my days on the boat counting abalone stocks along the WA coastline.

I always liked sport, science and maths in high school, and chose to study Marine and Coastal Management and Science Communication at University. Considering I thought I hated biology after doing one term of it in year 11, I don’t think my teenage self would have expected me to be here at all! But I’m very grateful I kept an open mind over the years as I love what I do.”

Reptile Ecologist

Ashleigh is attending Session 2 of our National Science Week event.

0AB7F08B-ADA7-484F-B327-EE201D4FE0ADAshleigh (Perth’s Urban Reptile Ecology) is a Reptile Ecologist and Animal Technician at Curtin University, and is hoping to pursue a career as a Veterinarian. Ashleigh will be joining us for the Environmental Sciences session at our Perth event this year. We asked her to share a bit about her work, and how she got to where she is today.

“I have just finished a PhD studying reptiles in cities, and how people and snakes/lizards can interact safely. I study where reptiles go (e.g. people’s backyards), what they eat (e.g. rats, lizards, or even food from your compost heap), and what they do when a they come across a person (run and hide, or try to attack you?). My work is carried out in the field and laboratory. In my spare time, I rehabilitate injured wildlife, care for other animals used in research (mostly mice), and I’m also doing work experience at veterinary clinics because I’m hoping to get into Vet school next year.

I have always wanted to be a veterinarian, but due to a long line of bad luck, I lost all interest in Chemistry, Physics and top Maths during high-school and didn’t study those classes in Year 12. My Career Counsellor at school then told me that I “wouldn’t ever be able to pursue a career in science” as a result. I let them talk me into studying Accounting at University, and it wasn’t until a year later that I realised that they were wrong! After spending 10 years at university, 5 years researching wildlife, and 2 years rehabilitating sick and injured animals, I now know that I can be (and really want to be) a great vet. I’m looking forward to chatting to students about all the different ways that you can work with animals (I have done many!)”

Speech Pathologist

Georgia is attending Session 3 of our National Science Week event.

EC217D32-CE08-4FBB-9139-615F7BF53D6BGeorgia is a Speech Pathologist (Clinical Lead) at Telethon Kids Institute, and will be joining us for session 3 of our Perth event this year. We asked her to tell us some more about why she chose Speech Pathology.

“At school, I had no idea what I wanted to do but I have always loved helping people. I chose to study Speech Pathology because it suited my interests and looked like it offered a wide variety of career directions. I am passionate about improving the lives of people with disability and this job allows me to do this at an individual level but also at a wider community awareness and policy setting level. I spend my days setting up an Australian first therapy service for young children with developmental disabilities and delays, researching evidence based practices and supporting children and their families – it often looks like playing.

My job is very rewarding but it can also be quite challenging. Every day I am surprised by the amazing people I meet and the wonderful things I get to do. I have had some fantastic training opportunities both at home and in other cities in Australia and around the world. I certainly didn’t think that I would be able to make a career for myself that involved playing with play doh, dancing and singing and doing craft.”

Energy Efficiency Project Officer

Karin is attending Session 3 of our National Science Week event.

65Karin is an Energy Efficiency Project Officer at the City of Mandurah.

We asked Karin to tell us how she got to be in her current role, and why she loves it.

“When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do and didn’t start my degree until I was 28. I spent my 20s travelling and working in hospitality and administrative roles – it took me a long time to discover my passion and decide on a direction. I chose to work in sustainability because I wanted to contribute to climate change mitigation and the only way to do that is to decarbonise our energy supply.

I studied an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Development, and am currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Energy Management. Landing this job at the City of Mandurah doing exactly what I want to be doing was a culmination of many years of study (next to working full time) and working in a related area of the commercial sector. I really feel like all the hard work has paid off and it has turned out to be an amazingly positive working environment. When you get to work every day to contribute to a cause that you genuinely care about and connect with like-minded people you really feel like you are making an impact. I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now.”

Shark & Fossil Science Researcher

Catherine is attending Session 3 of our National Science Week Event.

8E0C2BE8-252C-460F-ADDE-B75E29D32A60Catherine (Shark Evo Devo) is a Research Fellow in Shark and Fossil Science at Curtin University. We asked her to share with us what her day-to-day work involves, and what she studied to get where she is today.

“My days are varied. I sometimes spend most of it in the lab or on the microscope looking at my glow in the dark mini sharks. Other days, I will be writing papers, meeting students or working with the university deans. My research also involves fishing for sharks and taking care of them. I also sometimes collect fossils in remote locations in Australia and blast x-ray at them to look inside. As I become more senior, more of my time is spent in front of the computer but the projects are so varied that there is never a dull moment.

At school, I liked biology a lot and was ok at chemistry and physics. I was also a musician and applied to either study biology or be a professional violinist. Funnily enough, creativity and the arts are so important to what I do. You need to think outside the box to be a scientist and being artistic really helps. To get qualified, I studied biology (palaeontology, developmental biology, genetics) and prehistoric archaeology. A lot of palaeontologists study geology but I studied mostly biology subjects with “history of life”, comparative morphology and developmental biology being the most relevant to my current job.”

Breast Cancer Research Scientist

Ciara is attending Session 4 of our National Science Week event.

CiaraCiara is a PhD Student at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia. She has recently won a Western Australian Young Achiever Award for Innovation! Her research is supported by the Cancer Council Western Australia. We asked her to share a bit about how she got to where she is.

“When I was a teenager I had no idea I would be doing what I am doing today. I was originally aiming for medicine, and only realised how much I enjoyed research when I did my Honours year. I am currently researching whether honeybee venom (what gets injected into you when you are stung by a bee) could be used to effectively treat aggressive breast cancer cells. This involves putting the bees to sleep, manually collecting the venom, and then testing its effects on breast cancer cell lines. It’s such a great feeling when you discover something new in your field of research.”

Researcher: Optical Imaging

Gavrielle is attending Session 5 of our National Science Week event.

075E0549-42D9-4ECF-A893-D14FAC929E0DGavrielle is a PhD Candidate at The University of Western Australia researching optical imaging tools, and will be joining us for session 5 of our Perth event this year. We asked her to tell us some more about what her research involves and how she chose her career path.

“I chose to work in optics because I have always been interested in how humans use light to perceive and interact with the world around them. In my work, I research new medical imaging tools. On any given day, I might be working on a variety of tasks, including designing and modelling imaging systems on the computer and constructing systems of lasers, lenses, and optical fibres. We test these systems by imaging test samples such as cells in a petri dish and tissue samples from animals such as pigs and sheep.

Science was always my favourite subject in school. I was particularly inspired by my two of my high school science teachers whose encouragement and enthusiasm for physics helped me to see myself as a scientist and engineer. At university, I studied Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics for my Undergraduate degree. I also earned a Master’s degree in Applied Physics. I chose biomedical imaging specifically because I wanted to find a career path that allowed me to help people and give back to my community.”

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Developer

Camille is attending Session 6 of our National Science Week event.

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Camille is a Lead VR/AR Developer at St John Ambulance WA. She manages all aspects of technical production, and is involved in primary coding and prototype development. We asked her to tell us about how her passion became her career.

“I grew up with 3 brothers and through them was exposed to games from a young age. I loved playing games, and at around 10 years of age I also started making my own art. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after high-school because no one thought game development was a viable, practical option. After studying a Uni degree that wasn’t for me, I switched over to a Games degree at Murdoch University and felt I had found my place. When I first started my Games degree I didn’t expect my career to be very financially rewarding or secure – I basically took a leap of faith because I knew it was something I enjoyed doing. What I failed to consider was how the future could pan out. The technologies I work with today have tremendous potential and job opportunities in this field are growing every year.”

Planetary Scientist

Nicole is attending Session 7 of our National Science Week Event

CD8C044E-8614-43E9-B6C0-1E109A55695ANicole is a PhD student in Planetary Science & Cosmochemistry at the Space Science and Technology Centre, Curtin University. We asked her to share a bit about what she does and about how she ended up in the field.

“My day-to-day work involves studying the oldest and rarest materials preserved within meteorites, in-order to unlock the mysteries of early solar system evolution. I use computers, read articles and utilize machines that help me look at these meteoritic materials right down to the atomic scale.

In high school, I was interested in a wide range of subjects; literature, music, maths, biology, physics, chemistry, drama and social sciences. I chose to study Geology at Uni, because I found it let me do a little bit of almost all of my favourite subjects and it even included some art. I studied Geology and in honours transferred into the planetary science specialisation. Since I started in this career, the entire journey has been an adventure I never could have imagined as a teen. I have got to work for the Desert Fireball Network, a team of researchers who developed a meteorite tracking system. Joining this team has enhanced my skills and allowed me to work in the outback. I was also selected for a NASA internship which has now turned into a continued collaboration for my PhD.”

Chemical Analyst

Sheena is attending Session 7 of our National Science Week Event.

715DFAB6-EE57-42B8-A828-F5D66C73F06ESheena is a Chemical Analyst of Illicit Drugs at ChemCentre. We asked her to tell us some more about what she does and to share some insights into choosing a career path.

“My work involves the analysis of samples provided by the WA Police and other agencies that may contain illicit drugs. I mainly use preliminary (spot) tests, extraction chemistry and analytical instruments that aid the identification of these samples. Additionally, I am on the clandestine laboratory team at the ChemCentre, which attends scenes which may involve the manufacture of illicit drugs and are concerned with the safety of those involved and the sampling and/or disposal of possibly dangerous items.

I changed my mind and university degree many times to suit where my preferences took me as I learned what I enjoyed studying and what I didn’t. This meant I spent more years at university than initially intended but I didn’t mind too much as I got to constantly learn and gain experiences. We all face many obstacles on the paths to our careers, my barriers included those financial and mental. It can be difficult to reach our goals when there are many other priorities in life such as work, relationships and/or health. The key is determination and doing what you love in balance with your studies/work (which hopefully you also love). I found that by not always prioritising my studies as No.1 I could more fully succeed and be motivated in those studies, in other life goals and gain perspective on a happy healthy life. It’s not a race to the finish line.”

Physiotherapist

Claire is attending Session 8 of our National Science Week Event

2F81DFA1-F1AF-4D25-8B42-4B59617B479DClaire is a Team Leader and Physiotherapist at Therapy Focus. We asked her to tell us why she chose this career path.

“I work as a Physio with children and adults with disabilities. I also lead a team of allied health professionals including OT, speech, psychology, and behaviour support clinicians. I work in a community setting, so we see people at home, school or in the community.

I grew up dancing and I was always interested in the human body and the way it moved and worked. Physio was a really natural and obvious choice for me. I wanted to be a dance physiotherapist, but I wasn’t as passionate about that part of my uni studies. I found myself in the disability sector and haven’t looked back. I love that every ‘body’ I work with is different and unique – almost nothing fits inside a textbook and so I am challenged to use my brain to analyse and problem solve the best solution for every individual.”

Read more mentor profiles from previous events here!