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A little bit about me!

Today I thought I would tell you a bit about me, my career in science so far and the reasons why I started this blog.

My name is Jo-Maree Courtney – I’m never quite sure how to describe myself beyond “Scientist”. I started out in Neuroscience, did my PhD in Developmental Biology and am now doing a post-doc in Respiratory Medicine – but what all these areas have in common is Molecular Biology and that is my first and continuing fascination.

I clearly remember the high school science unit when we learnt about Mendelian genetics and the basics of meiosis, mitosis and DNA replication. Something in my head just clicked and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. (At around the same time I was reading Jurassic Park – before the film was made – and that just excited me about the potential of DNA even more!). Throughout my undergraduate career at the University of Tasmania I continually made whichever choices gave me the most opportunity to learn about genetics and molecular biology. This resulted in studying quite a bit of botany as the botany department at UTAS specialised in genetics – and left me with a lifelong love of Tasmanian native plants and the ability to identify several species of eucalypt by smell alone! However I was always more interested in genetics as it related to human disease so for my honours research project I moved into neuroscience and studied the potential for regeneration of injured spinal cord neurons.

After graduation I moved from Tasmania to London with my English fiancé (now husband) and, after a bit of time spent in temporary work to fulfil visa requirements, got a position as a Research Technician at University College London in a group studying calcium channels, particularly related to epilepsy. During this time I got my first real experience of using Photoshop – mostly with immunoflourescence staining – and I was hooked. 

With two valuable years of lab experience under my belt I began to look around for an inspiring PhD project and eventually found one at King’s College London studying tooth development. I continued to develop my Photoshop skills and soon found that my colleagues and fellow students were coming to me for advice. By the time I completed my PhD and embarked on post-doctoral research in the same department, I was running regular Photoshop for Scientists tutorials.

The next few years were punctuated by breaks for maternity leave when my two sons were born and a hiatus from academic research while I took up a technical position that better enabled me to concentrate on my growing family. However I continued my interest in Photoshop and continued to run tutorials for the students and post-docs in the department.

Finally, last year I left London and returned back home to my native Tasmania, with my husband and two small boys, ready to continue my academic career. I am now back where I started at the University of Tasmania but now I’m applying my experience in molecular and cellular biology to the field of respiratory medicine. 

So that’s me! I’d love to hear about you – what field of science do you work in? Are you an undergraduate, PhD student, post-doc? How do you use Photoshop in your work?


2 Comments on “A little bit about me!”

  1. studiokayama says:

    Hi! Great blog! I’m a professional medical & scientific illustrator, so I deal with formatting images for scientists all the time. Thank you for the post and keep up the great work!

  2. Dr Wendy Dirks says:

    I’ve been using Photoshop in ‘baby’ mode for over 20 years working in hard tissue histology.

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