This Friday observes the United Nations Day for Women and Girls in Science. To show our admiration of women in science we are celebrating a woman in science every day this week. Today we speak to Dr. Natasha Layton, Senior Research Fellow at Monash University.
What is your background?
My degree in applied science is in occupational therapy. I was looking for a profession that would give me both technical skills and a worldview about humans as occupational beings.
Why did you become a scientist?
Health professions such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech pathologists, are ‘scientist practitioners’. We get to use therapeutic interventions with a huge diversity of people who have impairments or functional challenges, including people living with TBI. These are great professions with huge potential.
What does your research focus on?
My current research focusses on assistive technology, that is, products that can enable people to lead the lives of their choosing. This might be a powered wheelchair to get around a university campus for someone with physical disability, a smartphone and refreshable Braille device for someone living with deafblindness who wants to check the footy scores, or an environmental control system for someone living with TBI wanting prompts and reminders to support their cognition.
What do you hope your research will help achieve?
Research into the effectiveness of these technologies will ensure they are well designed, fit for purpose, and available to people who need them.
What would you say to young girls and women who aspire to have a career in science?
Science can take you to many, many places – from research and development through to application in the real world.