Road safety is no accident. It takes effort to uphold. But we aren’t robots and mistakes can be made. It is in these situations where other sections of our road safety system must step in to keep everyone safe.
You might be wondering why you’re reading something about road safety when this was supposed to be a PKU blog. Well, I am an adult with PKU from Sydney, Australia. I recently graduated from my Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine at the University of New South Wales.
My PhD focused on the equipment we use to keep our children safe – child restraint systems. We know that in Australia, more than 50% of child restraint systems have at least one error in the way they’re being used. This is despite parents and carers wanting to do the right thing for their child. Errors can increase the risk of death and injury in a crash so my PhD investigated how design can be leveraged to create less error-prone child restraint systems.
''Well, I am an adult with PKU from Sydney, Australia. I recently graduated from my Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine at the University of New South Wales.''
I graduated in May 2023, celebrating 4 hard years of dedication, sacrifice, and continual learning. I learned I have exceptional mentors, my professors. I learned I have it in me to keep pushing when I thought the tank was empty, and to produce some important work. I’ve learned I can contribute to automotive safety and I’ve learned part of that is through presentations at conferences, TV news interviews, journal articles and running world-first research. I learned I can do hard things.
I learned that sometimes PKU can make things feel harder than you’d like them to be. I learned I have very real needs, and I learned putting yourself first is necessary. I learned that listening to my body is paramount and exercise and healthy eating makes me feel good. I learned that preparing low protein food is even more important during busy times, and having my medical supplement on time dictates how productive I can be. My journey with PKU has shaped me into a resilient and determined individual. I don’t find living with PKU easy - measuring grams, counting protein, blood tests, hospital visits, formula orders, clinical trials – fit amongst all other responsibilities of life. But it has shaped me to form traits that I have used in other areas of my life.
"I learned that sometimes PKU can make things feel harder than you’d like them to be. I learned I have very real needs, and I learned putting yourself first is necessary"
This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family – especially my mum and dad, my partner and friends. But a special mention to my friends with PKU who ‘just get it’. Sometimes it gets hard to express the unique challenges we face, but there is comfort talking with others who just understand.
I am now working as a postdoctoral research fellow at a research institute in Sydney. I run research studies using our state-of-the-art crash test sled which simulates real-life crash scenarios to help keep drivers, passengers and motorcyclists safe on our roads.