PhD (Queensland University of Technology)
Looking at tiny things under the big microscope
I work as an Electron Microscopy Technologist, which means that I spend a lot of my time looking at tiny things under big microscopes. Electron microscopy allows for visualisation of objects at high magnification using electrons instead of light. This produces high resolution, colourless images (as the wavelength of light is much larger than electrons, electrons don’t see colour) of objects under high magnification. As I am currently looking after some of these complex pieces of equipment at the Central Analytical Research Facility at Queensland University of Technology, my role involves engaging with a lot of researchers within QUT and across Queensland to help them make the best use of this equipment to meet their research goals. I enable researchers to dive deep in their research by providing quality training on microscopes as well as providing assisted microscopy services to researchers and industry clients.
Microscopy allows for the visualisation of objects that cannot be seen by the naked eye. This is a critical tool for research in different areas. Particularly, my contribution has been in the biomedical field where visualisation of small structures like bacteria, cells and viruses enables researchers to directly visualise the outcomes of their research. I enable researchers all over Queensland to make the most of the equipment at our facility. Currently there are over 500 users with varied research needs being trained by me on different microscopy equipment. This includes researchers and users from QUT as well as other Queensland universities such as UQ, Uni of Southern Queensland and Griffith Uni across disciplines ranging from dentistry to civil engineering. Along with this I also assist personnel from varying industries within Queensland for different applications such as geochemical analysis in soil and construction materials, failure analysis of equipment, analysis of waste and hazardous respirable contaminants etc. These industries are critical in the development of Queensland. Therefore, my contributions in the biomedical field as well as industry clients play a key role in the well being and continuous growth of Queensland.
I have transited through many global STEM career pathways, starting as a dentist in India to a research student in the UK and Australia, and now working as a microscopist at the Central Analytical Research Facility at QUT. This has been a very challenging yet fulfilling journey of being at the forefront of different aspects of the biomedical field. I have met several women who have inspired me along my career journey. In my current role as a microscopy technician, I interact with women of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds every day. Watching them engage in research and be in awe of what they see under the microscope is truly fulfilling for me. I am a strong support to them in their research journeys and find it rewarding when they give me positive and inspiring feedback on how my training has assisted them in achieving their research goals. A recent example would be a woman in her 80’s who was very energetic and enthusiastic about observing “ticks” under the electron microscope as a part of completion of her late husband’s research project. I realised passions for science and curiosity defy all barriers of age, race, and background. My motivation to be a STEM role model is derived from the inspiration that I receive from these women and enables me to be a strong STEM advocate and communicator.
I have a keen interest in science communication and engagement. My key contributions in this field are as follows:
STEM Ambassador, QUT: During my time as a Science Ambassador at QUT I have engaged in different science communication activities including assisting in biology demonstrations at schools as well as science fairs. This allowed me to engage with young minds and help them discover the possibility of a STEM career.
Science in Focus contest: I was a finalist and winner of the “Science in Focus” contest held by QUT. The Science in Focus contest is a contest for aesthetic visuals of science. This amalgamation of science and art is the perfect recipe for science communication as it helps people engage in science through the visual of microscopy.
TEDxQUT 2022: I have also contributed to science engagement by giving a talk at TEDxQUT in 2022 on how Electron Microscopy and it’s artistic visuals can help communicate science.