My Pathway to Science and Beyond

Home.
Home.

Science and I have always had a thing.

I grew up on a sugar cane farm (that’s it in the header photo) and was surrounded by nature. I always asked questions and wanted to know why. It was a great way to grow up, riding our bikes down to the creek, catching tadpoles, getting some sun! My favourite memories are from the school holidays when mum would pack an esky and she, my brother, the dog and I would load up into the ute and drive down to where dad was working. We’d sit up against the tractor tyres and have our “smoko” (tea and sandwiches, plus whatever goodies mum had baked).

My dad participated in a few studies with the local sugar research group and I remember the scientists coming out to the farm to check on the progress. They seemed so intelligent and confident as they explained what they were doing and what they needed my dad to do and I of course helped 🙂

I always loved school (almost always) and declared on my first day that I was going to be a teacher. I stuck to that plan throughout my entire schooling, until it came time to choose a university course. I decided to do a science degree, majoring in mathematics, since I wanted to be a math teacher. However, 6 months in, I was not enjoying the mathematics, but I was LOVING the chemistry. I switched majors and never looked back.

I did two post-graduate degrees on top of my Bachelor’s degree and landed a job, teaching sugar chemistry at a college near my hometown – it was a short term contract and I was lucky enough to then get a job in a drug discovery lab in Brisbane. This was to be my scientific awakening. I learnt so much there – it was the place where I first used robots and quickly discovered that I had a flair for them so I took on the role of teaching the robots and teaching my colleagues how to use them.

Eventually, I was approached by one of the robotics companies to join them as an applications specialist, where I could teach people all over the country. What a cool job! What an intense job! What a challenging job! What an exhausting job!

So a would-be-math-teacher becomes an automation applications specialist – stranger things have happened. Haven’t they? The running theme throughout is teaching, I still am happiest when teaching people (except for after work, when I’m wandering about with my camera!).

These days, my role is sometimes more administrative – running the budget, supplier liaison, strategic marketing plans, but I relish the days that get back into the lab, teaching customers how to automate their daily workflows.

I often wonder what would have happened if I’d gone in a different direction, my sliding doors moment – teacher and author were the two things I wanted to be… But, without taking this path that I’ve taken, I wouldn’t have met the people that I’ve met along the way!

So that brings me to now. Now I want to share with you some of this wonderful world of science. So I’m starting a regular feature with science at the heart of it, and photography as the backbone 🙂

I plan to share simple experiments that you can try at home (all suitable for children, with appropriate adult help, of course!). I’ll also share interviews with my fellow scientists (great opportunity to practice my portrait photography!!), and whatever other interesting things might pop up.

I was asked to write a chapter for a book many years ago. The book is called “Let’s Experiment” and was published by the CSIRO (ISBN 0-643-06801-5). It is full of interesting, educational and fun experiments of kids, and I have drawn my inspiration from there.

As most of you know, photography is never far from my mind and my camera is never far from my fingertips, so please indulge me with my images of these scientific escapades 😉

Ok, if you’re game, let’s dive in!!

x desleyjane

37 Comments Add yours

  1. tildy1 says:

    Like like like! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Aw thanks Tildy. I’m always a bit nervous with these ones…

      Like

      1. tildy1 says:

        I know what you mean. But a sugar cane farm is such a unique experience! And I had never heard of the word smoko!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. desleyjane says:

          LOL I just looked it up. We use it all the time but didn’t know where it came from. Apparently it’s from Australia / New Zealand and originated as a cigarette break from work! None of us smoke, so for us it’s just a tea break 😀

          Like

          1. tildy1 says:

            Now I get it! Cool. I don’t smoke either, but I may start taking smokos anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. desleyjane says:

              Smoko is the best time of the day!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great background story. I loved finding out all about you, dj. I was almost an Elementary Education major with Math, but then did a complete change and studied Public Relations. All the robot stuff sounds awesome too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Thanks Jilly 😄 the robots are very cool! I’ll do a post about them one day as part of this…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Norah says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Desley Jane. I really enjoyed reading your journey. I loved seeing the photo of your cane farm, such a familiar sight in Northern Queensland, and smiled at your ‘smoko’, such a familiar term, but now unused in my circles. My Dad always talked about ‘smoko’, and it was such an important mid-morning, more than afternoon, break on the farm.
    I’m so pleased that you enjoyed school and continue to learn and share your love of learning with others. What a fascinating journey you have traveled.

    Like

    1. desleyjane says:

      Hi Norah – I’m so sorry for missing this comment from you. What a lovely thing to say. It was definitely a great place to grow up. My family still says “smoko” even though they’re city folk now 🙂
      Thanks again for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Norah says:

        No problem missing the comment. It’s easy to do, especially with our busy lives. 🙂

        Like

  4. Yahoo! A belated congrats on your science section! It was also lovely to hear more about you and your background. Perhaps I’ll follow in your lead and do the same. I’ve been pondering a new intro for the blog that incorporates the “cafe” part but haven’t been happy yet with the attemps. It’s a great thing to wander through different paths and come across something that really keeps you loving what you’re doing and also challenged. I recently read a book “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins and I think your story would fit really well along with the others!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Thanks Hils. I did it as part of blogging101 but have evolved it a little when I added the first science-based posts. Thanks so much. It really is amazing how things turn out! X

      Like

      1. I continue to be impressed by your creativity and angle in your writing. It’s very refreshing and I look forward to more! And I love that you used a nickname that I don’t hear too much. How DID you know?! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. desleyjane says:

          Oh thank you!
          I don’t know, it just seems to fit you 😀

          Like

          1. Yay! That’s sweet of you. Hils was actually my nickname around uni time and it became cemented during my exchange in Finland. I’ve also had Hil and then some other situation specific ones like Marigold and Ursa at a summer camp I worked at. Then there were the forgettable ones like Hi-Lary (which I hate – this was from jr high and there was a boy named Larry that I couldn’t stand, for… well, I have no idea what the reason was but likely something only a 13-year old would understand!) and Hilroy, the name of a school supplies and stationary company. My friend in grade 6 christened me with that. Aren’t nicknames fun?!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. desleyjane says:

              LOL, yes they can be interesting. I had the tightest permed hair ever for a while at school and one of the boys called me “sheep” which really bugged me. But I usually get DJ and my Dad used to call me Diesel which I don’t mind. I hate Des, too boyish for me. LOL.

              Like

              1. Sheep?! Oh no! Oh, that’s bad. Yes, I would have been pretty peeved. Speaking of hair, I occasionally got called Red or by my last name or part of my last name… forgot about that one. Where does your name come from? It’s interesting!

                Liked by 1 person

                1. desleyjane says:

                  I actually don’t know. My dad just said he liked it…..

                  Like

                  1. Have you met or heard of anyone else with your name? By the way, I was doing my hard thinking in the shower later and I figured that the boy who called you sheep had a big ol’ crush on you. ;D

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. desleyjane says:

                      Yep when I was at school I was a baton twirler (lol) and there was another Desley there although spelt Desleigh. Also I was getting on a plane once and an 80yo woman was in front of me. Her name was Desley, the flight attendant told her what a lovey name it was. When I gave him my boarding pas and he read my name he asked me if it was a joke! 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. What a crazy coincidence! Kind of like meeting another Hilary in elementary school with the same hair colour as mine.

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fascinating story, and that header photo is stunning! It sounds like you had such a good time and lots of experiences growing up in the great outdoors, something a lot of us are probably lacking these days. Congrats on all of your successes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Thanks again. I appreciate that. Yes it was great fun! X

      Liked by 1 person

  6. andy townend says:

    only just read this…inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Oh wow, thanks Andy!

      Like

  7. Debbie says:

    You’re from around Brisbane, DJ … .. me too!!! what a strange world the blogosphere is. i just love this journey of how you wanted to be a teacher and became a teacher of robotics- talk about finding your passion! is that what you still do? when you love the feel of facilitaing others to learn, shuffling papers and figures just doesnt fit the bill…..

    Like

  8. Robyn G says:

    A wonderful story.. your growing up reminds me of mine.. wonderful times and memories.
    You’re an interesting lady and very accomplished! Huge congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Aw thank you so much hun, I really appreciate that. X

      Liked by 1 person

  9. katieprior says:

    What an accomplished lady you are Desley! Well done to you! You are obviously very passionate about your branch of science as you write about it so well. I can’t believe I’ve missed it before, but I’m now off to find about your regular science features that you mention! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Oh thank you Katie. That means a lot to me. I hope you found the science experiments and interviews interesting 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. katieprior says:

        Yes, absolutely! I’ll have to find some styrofoam cups! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. desleyjane says:

          Oh I love that one. So much fun.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Always love to hear about science! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. desleyjane says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

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