Why did I pursue a doctorate?
I am eternally curious. But I like to go beyond the ‘just Google it’ approach when I don’t know something. Instead, I love the process of identifying problems, designing ways to solve the problem (usually by locating information or creating new data) and transforming data and information into new ideas, insights and most importantly – progress. Completing my doctorate has been the ultimate crash course in developing and using these skills.
The journey to being a damsel (almost!) with a doctorate?
A kiwi through and through (from the resilient city of Christchurch, New Zealand) I came to Melbourne, Australia to embark on a PhD. I am a people-person curious about what drives the uniqueness of human humanity – at the end of my psychology undergraduate I wasn’t ready to stop learning, and a PhD appeared to be a great opportunity to learn the skills required to explore the big questions ahead of our generation.
PhD Mission: Learn learn learn! To be fair, I was never in it for the certificate or the glory of calling myself ‘doctor’. I have always been fascinated by how engage with our world – how we sense, process and interpret information, and how this drives our decisions and actions.
PhD Topic? Behaviour neuroscience, specifically the psychology and neurobiology of how we switch our attention to tune in (or out!) to sounds.
PhD side goals? Essential to make the most of this time in your life. I wanted to see brains ‘light up’ in a scanner (for my inner nerd), I wanted to travel, I wanted to get teaching experience, and I wanted to take my science out of ‘ivory tower’ and engage more broadly.
What did I do during my PhD?
For me, the PhD was professional skills development on steroids mixed with a good dose of patience, determination, and humility thrown in. I explored how we tune out sounds using a range of techniques including brain scans to capture brain activity (a personal favourite), recording brain waves with EEG, questionnaires to capture people’s views and experiences, and studying people’s behaviour. I particularly looked at a condition called Chronic Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) but also misophonia (sound-rage) and more generally, what determines salience, and how does our brain use this information to switch our attention. Importantly, on my journey to get the PhD completed in a timely fashion, I ticked all my ‘side hustle’ goals: I travelled to present at conferences, I did a brain imaging study, I tutored, lectured and ran some workshops, and I had the chance to share my science with the community and media.
So what will this damsel do with her doctorate?
This my current challenge! With my PhD under examination I’m applying all my research and curiosity skills to look at opportunities within and beyond academic research pathways. I have a love of engagement and communication, and applying my curiosity-solutions to help people. I’m also passionate about coaching and mentoring for up and coming PhDers to give back to our doctorate community. So a position that applies these skills, and embraces continual develop to feed my curiosity will be a winner!