How I ended up doing a PhD in Clinical Neuroscience

What seems like a million years ago - I took my first class in neuroanatomy. I was terrified, excited and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Here I was, 18, I think I was pretty sweaty, obviously beet red and looking at a real human brain. All I could think of was ‘don’t vomit and don’t faint’. I successfully passed that first day without vomiting or fainting… I think. But what I learned that year opened my eyes to a world of science I never knew existed. The unknown. Everyone has a brain, but we know so little about it. The little piece of fat that lives in our heads is so complex, so intricate- and yet we have NO IDEA how we do some of the simplest things in our lives. Everyday things that make us human - like thinking about your favourite band, finding something funny or even falling in love - are completely unknown to us!


One of the reasons I wanted to go into neuroscience was because growing up, my uncle was living with schizophrenia. For those that don’t know- schizophrenia is a neurological disorder where people can sometimes have abnormal social behaviours and an inability to distinguish from what is real and what is not. Schizophrenia is a pretty taboo topic. It is often associated with being ‘crazy’ or ‘violent’ - and so talking about it with anyone outside my family was extremely hard.  It was quite tough for my family, as he aged, his condition became worse. Nearer the end of his life - he wasn’t the man that we all knew and loved.  I wanted to understand what happened to my uncle- what made him change and ultimately suffer. I decided I would devote myself to understanding the brain and disease.


Flash forward a few years- and here I am - doing a PhD, teaching and working on the forefront of science- and I couldn’t be happier. I always get asked - BUT YOU’RE A MODEL!! Why would you continue to work in science? And it’s a good question. I love modelling- but let’s face it- one day I’m going to be old and my face will drag on the floor. I doubt anyone is going to book me then (maybe I can do some ‘before’ adverts haha). But in all honesty, I always needed something that challenged my mind. Something that made me feel like I was giving back to the community. And brains are pretty cool.

Doing a PhD, I often meet people who are suffering from neurological disorders, which can be hard at times. It really brings me back to the reason why I started studying in the first place. If I can help them in any way possible- I know that I made the right decision- and will do my best to help as many people as possible. 

Anyway, didn’t want to get too soap-opera-y, but I just wanted to share with you guys why I do what I do. And, don’t worry- the next science posts will be about ACTUAL science stuff.