Jacqueline Heidi Byrne
PhD Candidate - QCIDD
BA/BSc (Hons), The University of Queensland
I work at the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability. People with intellectual disability have poorer health outcomes compared to the general population. They are also more likely to have manageable health conditions which remain unidentified, for example a vision or hearing impairment. My research is looking at tools which may improve the health care of and health outcomes for people with intellectual disability.
I have been a science ambassador for 2 years now. I have been going out to Roma State College as part of the Wonder of Science program. I have done science classes with hundreds of students from grade 4 to 10. We have looked at a whole range of things from life cycles, to understanding how we measure earthquakes, to the best angle to use when launching a rocket. I have always tried to start with a fun practical class to introduce the topic, and then let the students work amongst themselves to answer specific research questions. It has been a wonderful experience!
What got you into science?
I have always enjoyed science. I liked discovering things and trying to understand how and why things work and happen. I have always liked the hands-on aspects involved in science; where we would run experiments and try different things to find answers. I also always like the idea of having a job, where each day would be different, and that I would have the opportunity to meet new people, travel, share ideas and always keep learning.
What’s an average day on the job like for you?
At the moment I am in the 'writing-up phase' of my project. In this phase, I drink coffee, talk to other students and scientists, and I do a lot of thinking to try to make sense of what I have found and how to best communicate this to others.
How does your research apply to day-to-day life?
My research is looking at tools which may improve health care and health outcomes for people with intellectual disability. This is extremely important for these individuals, as health is important for participation and enjoyment in life, and this may also result in savings in the health care system if we can better manage the health conditions experienced by people with intellectual disability.
Who is your favourite scientist and why?
Einstein! A classic. He was a genius and his theories are still commonly used in science, not just within physics but also the philosophy of science.
What does it mean to be a scientist?
A scientist can be anything from biologist, a geologist to an astrophysicist ! I guess scientists tend to all use similar methods or thought processes to explore and understand things, and to expand our knowledge in their own specific field of interest.
What is your dream job in science?
I would like to get into neuropsychology.
What advice would you give to younger students who want to become scientists?
Science means a whole range of things and career prospects. Scientific methods and thought can even be applied to every day life. For anyone interested in science, I would say- go for it! Science is exciting and fascinating! It means meeting interesting people, seeing new places, and learning new things. Do what ever you are interested in. There are many paths that lead to being a scientist, find something that you are passionate about and follow your dreams!
Wonder of Science is a website for kids and teachers, how would you get students excited about science?
I would recommend they look up any of the many activities online. There are so many wonderful things out there waiting to be discovered! Find a topic that relates to you, e.g., rockets, or animals, or earthquakes and start to unravel the mysteries around us using engaging activities !