I didn’t dislike school, but I hadn’t thought about university until my Year 12 Physics class. It seemed like a great way to keep solving fun maths problems and unlock a deeper understanding of the world.
My formal subjects gave me a good foundation in skills and jargon. But it wasn’t until I did research – real research – that I felt the challenge and thrill of discovery. For a moment in history, I had created the most powerful mid-infrared laser pulse in the entire universe! What a powerful feeling. I love solving problems my own way and maths gave me the tools I needed to do it.
Study is important, but so is networking and communication. Decisions are made by people with opinions and feelings. Look up a professor you admire and ask if you can help on a project. The worst thing they can say is no.
On my journey to becoming a research scientist in applied mathematics, I had to resist being put in a box. I shook up the academic status quo by wanting to be a mathematician and a physicist. They said I couldn’t be both. But I ended up in a research centre that didn’t exist when I started, in an emerging field where maths meets physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering.
With four small children, I got interested in the childhood education space. My first book was Quantum Physics for Babies.
It’s a thrill to watch my kids grow and wonder about their paths to creativity and discovery. Maybe it’ll be science, or art, or both. Whatever it is, I’ll be there enjoying the ride.