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During my school years biology was always my favourite subject and I was particularly fascinated by organ systems in the body integrating and working together. After studying broad biology subjects for two years, it really was a natural progression for me to choose to study physiology as my major in my undergrad degree in Dublin. From renal function to cardiac output to oxygen saturation, I was continuously in awe of the resilience and complexity of human physiology. I particularly enjoyed studying endocrinology, during which I discovered my intrigue in hormones. From puberty to menopause, cushings syndrome to PCOS, the impact that hormones play at all stages of life is truly remarkable. I particularly loved learning of the brain's involvement in hormone secretion.


I also took some clinical anatomy modules in my final year and discovered that I was truly an anatomy nerd! Learning the structure of the body really complimented my physiological understanding, and I thoroughly enjoyed working in the dissection room. I researched a CNS -centered honours project, where I looked at macrophage polarization in spinal cord injury. I really enjoyed the project and working with a phenomenal young female PI, however, I knew my research interests were more focused around endocrinology and the brain (and leaving Ireland behind me for a while!). I knew if I decided to continue with a postgraduate research degree I wanted to be a lab demonstrator in undergraduate anatomy papers, so I found myself applying for a PhD within the anatomy department, with my co-supervisor being in the world famous Centre for Neuroendocrinology at Otago!

I was delayed by a full year coming to Otago due to Covid-19, during which I gained invaluable experience as a Lab Assistant in the National Virus Reference Lab in Dublin. I really enjoyed working in diagnostics and seeing what industry had to offer, but knew my ultimate goal was a PhD! I eventually landed in Dunedin in 2021 and have never looked back! I am really interested in hormonal signalling in ageing and how regions of the brain can respond to estrogens and positively impact metabolic changes in the periphery. The first year of my PhD has been focused on trying to understand what neurons in the brain are involved in 17 alpha estradiol's ability to reduce body weight, improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance and liver adiposity in male mice. I am a strong advocate for women's health, so the next phase of my project will use a brain specific estrogen in female mice, trying to restrict estrogen treatment to the brain without exposing the rest of the body to undesirable hormonal levels. I currently demonstrate to undergraduate anatomy students in neuroanatomy and undergraduate physio students in limb anatomy, which I thoroughly enjoy!

I feel very privileged to be studying in the Department of Anatomy at Otago. Having incredibly supportive mentors and peers, exposure to world-leading scientists and teachers and being in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, my PhD experience has been nothing short of incredible.

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