Ever since I can remember I have been curious about the world and how it works on a microscopic scale. I even tried to grow mould on cheese under my bed – much to my mother’s horror. That curiosity blossomed when I reached high school and could learn biology, chemistry and maths. My Year 12 chemistry teacher, Dr Kathryn White, was a huge inspiration. She was able to make chemistry not only exciting and engaging but also challenging and gratifying. She organised a series of STEM professionals to come and talk to us about their work and careers. This opened my eyes to the broad variety of options I had as a future woman in STEM.
After college I was accepted into a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and moved to Perth. Following a tumultuous gap year, I had to decline my offer at UWA and move back to Canberra. I was working in hospitality when I decided to undertake a Certificate IV in laboratory techniques at the Canberra Institute of Technology. Here I was first introduced to histology – a little known field of medical science that studies the structure of tissue to diagnose disease. I fell in love immediately. My Certificate IV led me to a position as a laboratory technician at an environmental science consultancy focussed on asbestos testing. Whilst this job was a foot in the door, I couldn’t help but feel the pull towards working in histology. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Canberra and during my first year was also able to get a job as a pathology aide in a histology/cytology lab. After completing my degree, I have since moved to Brisbane with my partner and recently gained a position as a medical dissection scientist in a larger histology laboratory.
My journey as a woman in STEM has already taught me so much; the microscopic workings of the world around me and how I can continue to push my aspirations further into the future. I have been very fortunate to have had great women along the way to inspire me and show me what is possible. As the career landscape evolves rapidly around us, I hope that the generations of women following also receive the support and inspiration to pursue their passions in STEM careers.
Fun fact about Louisa: In school she won a contest by eating the most m&ms with a pair of chopsticks!