I became fascinated with psychology towards the end of school, probably due to excessive introspection, so I chose to study it. After being traumatised by fourth year Honours, I did other things for a couple of years - I cut out rat brains and investigated their neurons as a research assistant. When that ended I was unemployed for 6 months, at which point I had to choose between working for the dole, getting a 9-to-5 job, or doing a PhD. I chose to do a PhD (on the genetics of human sexuality); a decision for which I am ever grateful. I fell in love with research about half way through my PhD and now I’m doing a postdoc and am amazed every day that I have a job I would do even if I won lotto and never needed to work again.
Intense curiosity about human nature, the ability to think rationally about it, and being able to express those thoughts clearly in writing are all pretty much essential. Another key attribute is being able to identify or generate, from amongst the infinite questions that could possibly be asked, those that are important and answerable with one’s available resources.
I’m always working on several different topics at any one time. One especially interesting project is investigating the way environmental cues subtly affect the sorts of physical and mental traits we prefer in a partner, because the costs and benefits of those traits change depending on environmental circumstances. In other lines of research, I’m trying to work out if the female orgasm has an evolutionary function and why we all have such different personalities and abilities, and how these are impacted by natural and sexual selection pressures. You can read more about my research in New Scientist, the Economist and ABC News online.
I’m obsessed with music – mainly non-mainstream rock and pop – and I’ve recorded an album in the past. Now I’m trying to write a novel, but that’s going so slowly that I may never finish.