Tara-Lyn Camilleri-Carter

PhD candidate, Monash University

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Girls and women have the capacity to be fantastic in all areas, maths and science included.

What do you do?

I use fruit flies to do experiments that combine evolution, nutrition, and ecology. That means, I look at what changes in the flies on particular diets and why it changes.
Currently, I am exposing parent flies to different diets and seeing what effects those diets have on the health, reproduction and lifespan of both the parents and their offspring.

Why did you choose this field?

I've had a longer road than most to get to a PhD. While I liked science in school, I didn't go to the most inspiring high school, being from a rural, working class family. I managed to get into a degree in Psychology out of high school, finished it but decided that I didn't want to pursue clinical psychology, as that would be another 3 years doing it tough financially. I went full time at my then job and ended up working for 8 years in the IT service industry. When I left that career I was a Service Centre Manager and successful in that career, but in my spare time I was reading about all things science and volunteering for a conservation organization.
I decided to take the plunge and go back to university to pursue biology. Along the way to support myself I had several other jobs that afforded me great experience like zoo keeping! I completed a masters degree and now I'm in my final year of a PhD. I guess the point to my personal story is don't worry if things take you longer, as I have tried things along the way, and I am more sure of my path now. Also life experience makes you more competent at whatever you choose to do.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I think getting into and doing very well at a PhD. A younger version of myself didn't consider research as being for people like me because I had the same preconceived notions of what a scientist was, as many do. That unfortunately still rarely includes women, and if it does, it often only includes certain "types" of women. In reality that notion is nonsense, there are fantastic scientists from all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and personalities.

Why do you love working in STEM?

The variety! Each day is slightly different, one day will be in the fly lab, the next might be writing or analysing data, the next might be communicating my work to a general audience. Each one of those things provides it's own unique challenges, and skill set. It is also amazing to do these things along side other passionate people from all around the world who come together to achieve science!

Best advice for next generation?

I wish someone had said to me - don't allow society, culture, or individuals tell you who you are or what you are good at. Girls and women have the capacity to be fantastic in all areas, maths and science included.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

I don't usually do inspirational quotes honestly, but if you have a spare 20 minutes, look at Julia Gillard misogyny speech. That is my inspiration.

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