I once had someone tell me ‘if there are two possible options, an easy way and a hard way, you will always choose the hard way’ and whenI look back at my life I would have to agree. Deciding to embark on a Bachelor of Science degree (Biomedical science) full time as a single parent of two children certainly wasn’t the easy option but I knew this is what I wanted to do.
After completing undergraduate studies I went on to do honours in molecular epidemiology (Cryptosporidium and Isospora in domestic pigs) and it was during this time that I realised I thoroughly enjoyed the epidemiology but not the lab work.
Therefore, I went in search of a project that was more field based and which incorporated my other interests in public health, emerging infectious disease epidemiology, biosecurity and of course travel (preferably). So I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been able to embark on a PhD project which encompasses all that plus more.
The project, which is based in Bali and Lombok, is investigating the role that live bird markets play in the epidemiology of avian influenza (AI) using both traditional epidemiological and social research techniques (a ‘socio-epidemiological approach’), providing me with a unique set of skills I hope to use throughout my career.
In February 2009 I will be heading to New Zealand to undertake a student placement at Massey University, thanks to the AB-CRC! During this time I will be learning social network analysis techniques which I will then apply to the data I have collected throughout 2008. This will enable me to identify relationships and flow of live poultry movement between the various markets in each of the islands which is important when trying to understand the role of live bird markets in the epidemiology of AI and the dispersion of virus in the event of further outbreaks. Aside from learning new skills, I am also looking forward to seeing as much of New Zealand as I can squeeze in!