Dr Jessica Dobson didn’t think that she wanted to go to university. Growing up in the quiet beachside town of Moruya, on the NSW Far South Coast, she dreamed of being a professional surfer. Science was not in her future.
But, on the recommendation of a careers counsellor at her high school, Jessica enrolled in two degrees – exercise science and marine biology – at the University of Wollongong. She was interested in anything that kept her active and close to the water. In the end, she chose a Bachelor of Exercise Science, because she “liked exercising”.
Fast forward eight years later, and Jessica has truly found her niche in the world of research. Yesterday (6 November 2019), she graduated with a PhD from the School of Medicine, joining hundreds of other graduates in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health ceremony.
Dr Dobson’s doctoral thesis focused on improving footwear for underground coal miners. It was an area she came to by chance, but one that has given her the opportunity to examine the mechanics of the human body while having a tangible impact on the lives of others.
“I never really enjoyed physics in high school, but when I was studying my undergraduate degree, I did a subject in clinical biomechanics, and I loved learning about physics as it applied to the human body,” said Jessica, now known as Dr Dobson.
“I loved learning about movement and about optimising our physical performance. I was particularly focused on walking, on gait mechanics.”