Dr Lauren Jones, having recently completed her PhD, followed her instincts and is now forging a research career investigating the gut-brain axis, helping to create new knowledge which will impact lives.
Her initial impression of research was different than the reality she has now experienced “What I’d seen of research was that it was bland, it didn’t seem exciting.” But a series of lectures in an advanced neuroscience topic opened a door to a different path. “I was amazed to learn what was actually happening in research. The techniques and advancements were very exciting.” Lauren credits her Honours project and the chance to learn independently as making her rethink her options. “I thought – this is incredible, I’m a part of creating new knowledge. We are researching things no one has ever looked at before.”
Lauren was also attracted by the wide possibilities, and the chance to contribute to a global body of learning. “A PhD gives you so many choices, and not just in things you would imagine. There’s a broad range of opportunities”. During her PhD she travelled to the USA twice to work in a laboratory she collaborates with. “Science is international, it’s a passport to work anywhere in the world and be involved in a broad range of projects.” Lauren recognises that throughout her PhD her problem-solving skills were elevated, and her resilience and confidence were boosted. “It develops you as a person. It’s challenging. But by the end you are confident enough that you can get an experimental protocol and improve it with your own advanced understanding and skills.”
Continuing her gut-brain axis research, Lauren is interested to see where her questions & answers lead. “What we are discovering can help target treatment. It’s an exciting endeavour, with the possibility of producing specific treatments with less ‘off target’ effects for people with gut disorders.” Thinking independently and originally is now her job, which she views as a privilege. “Researchers are incredibly lucky, it’s our job to create new knowledge. The next few years for me is about defining what interests me and making new discoveries that can improve lives.”