Kirsti: It’s hard to know exactly how friendships have shaped my career in and around science. I can’t quantify it, and the multiple ways in which individuals contribute to my skill base, confidence, decision making and direction is too complicated and long a history to dissect.
But through science I have met some of the most brilliant minds, passionate people and wonderfully creative souls. People as a child I never imagine existed. And it makes me want to stay in science almost because people like that are there. These types of people are everywhere you might say, but for me, and my type of personality, with my own interests and love of learning, my people in my spaces inspire me. They challenge me, support me, teach and motivate me.
Reflecting on people that have influenced me in science, there are two stand outs that gave me very different views and values about science. They appeared at the right time and I remain friends with them both.
Honours supervisor – brilliant and rebellious, almost obnoxious and unforgivingly right. All the time. And it hit a chord with me during that ‘I can do anything’ phase of my life. His enthusiasm for bugs, for science, research and for working hard toward personal goals have stayed with me.
PhD supervisor – measured, thorough, deliberate and accurate. A natural historian and dedicated researcher in the most traditional and treasured sense of the words. Can be grumpy, but always genuine.
But my true-on-the-ground-everyday-down-n-dirty-I-am-doing-it-all-right-next-to-you friends give me support, strength, wisdom, conviction, ideas, laughs……and coffee.
I have a friend who will no doubt be an inspirational leader in science education. I have a friend who has travelled to beyond the horizons to search for chemicals in plants. I have a friend who, when she tells stories, the whole room stops and listens. I have a friend who loves concrete and yoga and organic food and art all at the same time. I have a friend who devotes every cell of her being to being the best she can at bloody well everything, and succeeds!
And then there are new and unexpected friends. New perspectives and discussions that have steered me sideways from research and into a science communication and education arena. I am grateful, for here I have found more amazing people.
But after some deliberation, I keep coming back to the fact that it’s science that I have chosen, but my friends that keep me here.
[disclaimer: this post in no way diminished the role of my family in doing all these things too!]