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#528028 - Thu Jun 10 2010 08:40 PM Interview with NatalieW
Pagiedamon Offline
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Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
jonnowales:
Many of those who have come across you on the site will know that you have a love of chemistry. When did you first become inspired by the subject and have you always wished to make a career out of it?


My first dedicated chemistry lesson was in year 10 at high school. I remember balancing chemical equations and thinking, “Hey, this is cool!” I guess things just grew from there. I like how science in general explains things (I’ve always liked to know how things work), and how chemistry specifically explains so much about the world around us and contributes to our everyday lives.

I kind of fell into chemistry as a career; it wasn’t planned at all! I have always had a strong interest in forensic science (long before TV shows like “CSI” made it popular), so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree at university, not really sure where it would take me, but knowing that I wanted to work in a science-related field. I found that I really enjoyed the chemistry subjects I took, so it made sense to concentrate on them during the final years of my degree. Not to mention a couple of years of dissecting things in biology-based subjects was more than enough for me (I know I said I like knowing how things work, but there are limits …)! I was lucky enough to get a paid summer vacation scholarship in the chemistry research labs at the end of my final year of undergraduate studies, and this just whetted my appetite for more chemistry! I ended up following my nose into the university’s chemistry research labs as a postgraduate student and completed my postgraduate research degrees there in the area of synthetic organic chemistry (basically, I got to make stuff – it was great fun). I’m a research chemist by training, but a teacher by inclination (there are a LOT of teachers in my family), and I’ve spent the last 15 or so years combining the two.


LeoDaVinci:
Us physicists always joke about being one step ahead of chemists. How do you see this rivalry?


I don’t know what you mean. Rivalry, you say? Seriously, science is so multidisciplinary these days that the terms “chemist” and “physicist” will probably become obsolete in the next few decades or so. Physical chemistry, chemical physics, it’s all about collaboration. Several of my colleagues who would most definitely class themselves as chemists find themselves publishing in journals that are not classified as chemistry-based at all, purely because of the multidisciplinary research they conduct.


LeoDaVinci:
Which scientists do you admire and for what?


Linus Pauling – not one, but TWO Nobel Prizes. One for Chemistry in 1954 for his work on the nature of the chemical bond and a Nobel Peace Prize the following decade for his contribution to the development of a nuclear test ban treaty. Not only an inspirational scientist, but an inspirational human being.
Marie Curie (also a dual Nobel Prize winner) and Lise Meitner – two groundbreaking female scientists.
Rosalind Franklin – if Nobel Prizes were awarded posthumously, she would have received one along with Watson and Crick for her contribution to determining the double-helix structure of DNA.


jonnowales:
Jobs at universities often give you the chance to do a bit of travel. Has chemistry taken you to any other countries and have you ever been tempted to move abroad?


I obtained a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Liverpool, England, and I spent a year living and working in Liverpool. It was a terrific experience. I recommend working overseas to anyone – you’ll test yourself and find that you can do more than you thought.

A few months ago it looked like the Faculty was going to send me to Malaysia on a business trip, but that’s fallen through for the moment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though! I’ve been to a few conferences within Australia, which have been good experiences (well, except for the fact that I seem to catch the flu every time I go to New South Wales. I don’t think Sydney likes me!). As for being tempted to move abroad – see below.


LeoDaVinci:
How do you like Australia?


Not like, love. It’s home and always will be. I like experiencing new places, but I will always come back to Australia. When Qantas plays Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home” over the speaker system when the plane is coming in to land at the end of an international flight, my eyes always get a bit teary.


ozzz2002 and jonnowales:
Adelaide is a pretty city. What are, in your opinion, the best features of your city? Is there a particular attraction that brings people from abroad to visit the city?


Adelaide has been described as a “city in a park”, as the central business district is surrounded on all four sides by large areas of parkland, with the River Torrens skirting us to the north and the Adelaide Hills away to the east. It’s a small enough city to make it liveable and relatively easy to get around, but large enough (population a shade over 1 million) that we have all the modern conveniences you would expect of a city that size.

We have our share of good museums, galleries and highly-rated restaurants, but probably the most popular reason people come to Adelaide is to use it as a base for the attractions surrounding the city – the winemaking regions of the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley and McLaren Vale; Cleland wildlife park up in the Adelaide Hills (yes, you can pat a koala there!) and Kangaroo Island (famed for its beautiful beaches and wildlife) is just a hop, skip and a jump away. Adelaide gets a lot of interstate and overseas visitors in March – during that month Adelaide hosts a V8 touring car race (which is run on a street circuit) as well as the Adelaide Festival of the Arts and the Fringe Festival. Not to mention Adelaide’s a great gateway to the Outback. Point the car north, drive for about an hour and you’ll wonder where civilisation went.


ozzz2002:
If you could live anywhere in the world aside from Australia, where would it be?


I loved my time in England, and could happily live anywhere in the UK. London’s an amazing city (although very expensive to live in!). I think living in the US for a while would also be a great experience. I don’t think I’d ever want to move permanently away from Australia, though.


LeoDaVinci:
What countries/places have you visited already?


I’ve travelled to quite a few European countries: Greece, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, England, Wales and Scotland. My uncle lived in Greece for a number of years, so I’ve seen quite a bit of the country. Having lived in England for a year, I got out and about during that time and have seen a fair bit of the UK as well (but not Ireland – yet!). I’ve also been to Turkey and Thailand (but only briefly). I think my next big travel trip will be North America, but I have no idea when that will be!


LeoDaVinci:
Where would your ideal vacation spot be?


Somewhere I can see and do things – I like historically significant places. Cities like London, Prague, Rome and Budapest just ooze history and I find them fascinating. I’m not much of a one for sunning myself on a beach and drinking cocktails (probably because I get sunburned easily!).


ozzz2002:
You are in the same class as I am- Class 10- meaning that we both joined FunTrivia way back in 2001. Do you reckon you will still be here in another nine years?


I aim to be! A friend introduced me to FunTrivia all those years ago and I’ve never looked back. I can’t believe it’s been almost ten years, though. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun!


Pagiedamon:
Have you met anyone from FunTrivia in real life? Who would you like to meet?


I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few FT-ites in person: Terry and his wife Karen when they visited Adelaide a number of years ago. Also Exit10 when she was in Adelaide. It’s always good to be able to put faces to the names.


jonnowales:
You have been an editor in the For Children category for a long time. When were you approached for the role and do you find that most of the quizzes submitted to For Children are by younger teenagers?


I’ve been editing in For Children since 2003, when I got a message asking if I’d be interested in filling a vacant editing position. After I picked myself up off the floor, I wrote back saying that I was indeed interested!

While quite a few of the authors of FC quizzes are teenagers trying their hand at quiz writing for the first time, there is a broad cross-section of the FunTrivia community who contribute to the category as well. People who have written successful adult-oriented quizzes in other categories often make the transition and write a quiz for FC, which is great to see.


LeoDaVinci:
What is the most challenging and/or rewarding thing about editing the 'For Children' category?


The most rewarding thing is the variety – in any one session, I might go from editing a Pokemon quiz, then on to a Science for Kids quiz, then perhaps a Disney Music quiz and finish up with a History for Kids quiz. I never get bored!


ozzz2002:
You work as a university lecturer and edit in For Children. Do you have any problem changing 'levels' when you edit?


I’d never really thought about that! But no, not really. They’re both about communicating with people in a way that helps them understand what they need to do in order to progress to the next level, whether that’s into second-year chemistry or resubmitting a quiz with appropriate interesting information.


agony:
Do you have children of your own?


No, I don’t, which I suppose is odd for someone who edits in the Children’s category! But I’m still a kid inside, so I consider myself eminently qualified in that regard.


agony:
What would your desert island picks be? If you could only pick one movie, book and piece of music, what would they be, and why?


Oh, goodness, that’s tough! Let’s see … Movie: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” – a great combination of fun and drama. Book: “Hogfather”, by Terry Pratchett (the man’s a genius). Music: OK, this one has stumped me. My music tastes are rather eclectic, so I would probably make myself a compilation disc featuring various tracks from my CD collection (I hope that’s not cheating!).


agony:
Tell us something about what a normal day looks like for you.


On weekdays, I’m usually in my office by 7:30am, not because I’m an earlybird sort of person, but because I hate dealing with morning peak hour traffic! My computer goes on and I check my email – any number of student emails can come through overnight, so I see to those first. During teaching periods, my day can consist of a combination of any or all of a lecture, tutorial class, lab class, staff and committee meetings plus administration duties, so I divide my time between these and preparing appropriately for each. There might be marking to be done as well, in addition to speaking with students who come to ask me questions about lecture material. Outside of teaching periods, I spend my time revising and updating my lectures and other teaching materials as well as the lab courses for our various year levels and other administrative tasks. I also get some time to do some research. Once I’m back home, I like to sit and read the paper before dinner and then maybe read a book or watch some TV before bed. Then, next morning I get up and do it all again!


Pagiedamon:
And finally, as ladymacb29 once famously asked: boxers or briefs?


Boxers. I like a bit of mystery!




Thanks to all who took part.
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#528029 - Thu Jun 10 2010 09:48 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
ozzz2002 Online   FT-cool
Moderator

Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 19645
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia        
Very nice interview, Natalie, and I am glad you picked me as one of your 'interrogators'.
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#528030 - Thu Jun 10 2010 10:31 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
dg_dave Offline
Champion Poster

Registered: Sun Oct 05 2003
Posts: 23311
Loc: near Stafford, Virginia USA  
Natalie, you, ozzz, and I are all Class 10'ers. Oddly enough, I signed up a few months before my last job, which started in May 2001; I just started a new one yesterday, and hadn't left the other until about 3 weeks ago.
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#528031 - Thu Jun 10 2010 11:07 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
NatalieW Offline
Prolific

Registered: Thu Aug 07 2003
Posts: 1512
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
>> Very nice interview, Natalie, and I am glad you picked me as one of your 'interrogators'.

It was no interrogation; thanks to all of you for such interesting questions to answer.

>> I signed up a few months before my last job, which started in May 2001; I just started a new one yesterday, and hadn't left the other until about 3 weeks ago.

So your previous job was as old as your FT account! I wonder how many other Class 10-ers are still active around the place?

Natalie
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#528032 - Fri Jun 11 2010 01:46 AM Re: Interview with NatalieW
ozzz2002 Online   FT-cool
Moderator

Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 19645
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia        
From here, there are at least 60 of us! Zimmer frames, seeing eye dogs, and ear trumpets everywhere.
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The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not smashing it.

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#528033 - Fri Jun 11 2010 06:04 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
NatalieW Offline
Prolific

Registered: Thu Aug 07 2003
Posts: 1512
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Not bad! We're still kicking on. Lots of familiar names in that list!

Natalie
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#528034 - Tue Jun 15 2010 07:59 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
Pagiedamon Offline
Moderator

Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
As ozzz2002 said, this was truly an interesting interview! But aren't they all?
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#528035 - Wed Jun 16 2010 04:23 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
jonnowales Offline
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Registered: Mon Oct 30 2006
Posts: 1529
Loc: Swansea
Wales UK
Nice interview Natalie - I never knew that you had visited Wales!

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#528036 - Wed Jun 16 2010 05:02 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
NatalieW Offline
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Registered: Thu Aug 07 2003
Posts: 1512
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Jon, Wales is a beautiful place - I've only seen small sections of the north (Llandudno, Caernarfon, Rhyl) so far and would love to see more one day.

Natalie
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#528037 - Wed Jun 23 2010 07:54 AM Re: Interview with NatalieW
BxBarracuda Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Wed Sep 05 2007
Posts: 5117
Loc: Bronx
New�York�USA�ï¿...
Great interview.

Natalie, do you have any pets and what type of food or drink is your favorite?

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#528038 - Fri Jun 25 2010 05:26 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
NatalieW Offline
Prolific

Registered: Thu Aug 07 2003
Posts: 1512
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Thanks Bx, although I give full credit to the people who asked me such interesting questions.

I do not have any pets, but I love cats and would like to get myself one some day.

As for food and drink - I can't go past good dark chocolate. Divine! I've got a recipe for dark chocolate fudge that is ridiculously easy, but produces the best fudge you've ever eaten.

Natalie
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#528039 - Sat Jun 26 2010 04:26 AM Re: Interview with NatalieW
The_lioness33 Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sat Feb 25 2006
Posts: 2869
Loc: Adelaide South Australia    
Quote:

Point the car north, drive for about an hour and you’ll wonder where civilisation went.





That made me laugh. Rarely have I seen a more succinct description. Thanks for my daily giggle.

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#528040 - Sat Jun 26 2010 07:51 PM Re: Interview with NatalieW
NatalieW Offline
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Registered: Thu Aug 07 2003
Posts: 1512
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
>> That made me laugh. Rarely have I seen a more succinct description. Thanks for my daily giggle.

I aim to please!

By the way, nice avatar, Lioness.

Natalie
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