Jade McKenzie

  • Database Administrator
  • CDM
  • University of Melbourne
  • Road-tripping behind the scenes

What do you do?

I’m a keeper of a special vault of information called a database.  It’s like a huge library where we store all the data collected from our experiments to find dark matter.  Dark matter is invisible to us, and so is hard to detect.  We sometimes have to go deep underground, 1 kilometre below the surface, to search for it.  My job is to make sure the vault holding all the data is well organised and secure, so scientists can study it and learn more about dark matter and our Universe.

How did you get to where you are today?

I worked in IT and business for 10 years after high school, then I wondered whether I could make my job a bit more interesting by doing a similar thing, but for scientists.  I was first interested in learning about the weather, so I thought maybe I could work for the Bureau of Meteorology.  To work there, you need to learn physics and mathematics.  Once I started down the path of physics, I learned there were even more crazy things going on in the Universe than just Melbourne weather!  I love that the world of dark matter is so unknown—but it’s also very important because without it we might not be here.  I studied a Bachelor of Science with a major in physics and minor in software and computing.  I was able to make a lot of great connections through university by doing summer projects and asking lots of questions in lectures, and that’s how I eventually landed my job.

What’s the best thing about your role?

I get to do what I’m good at, while learning everyday from lots of smart people!

What advice would you give to someone considering studying physics?

Ask lots of questions, even if you think you know the answer.  Physics and other sciences are naturally difficult subjects and we’re all still learning at every level in our careers—the questioning never ends, it’s how we get better and it shows you’re curious!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be leading projects in database and software development for physics.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy making art, playing music, seeing friends and camping.  I’m a thrill seeker; I love a good adrenaline rush!  I have bungee-jumped and sky-dived, and I have hiked the Swiss Alps.  Not only that, but I hold licences for boating and jet-skiing, and I absolutely adore being out on the water.  It’s where I feel most alive and happiest!

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

Immanuel Kant, Vera Rubin & Richard Feynman

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