When she was 17 years old, Megan Smith was welcomed to the beginning of her academic career by a dead body.
"Back then in anatomy classes, we worked on cadavers," Professor Smith recalls.
"So that was my welcome to university, a cadaver."
Many years before that moment, Professor Smith had begun planning her trajectory through a career in sciences.
From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a physiotherapist, and she was sure she would like to teach one day.
"I think I was always interested in science, I always really enjoyed it, I always liked pulling things apart to see how it all works," Professor Smith said.
But, as a child, she did not know that she would become the first woman promoted to the position of executive dean in the faculty of science at Charles Sturt University.
That had never really factored into her ambitions, but it has been her role now for the past 12 months.
"I wouldn't say I was ever really encouraged to go into the sciences, it was never something that was suggested to me," Professor Smith said.
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Growing up in Coolamon, Professor Smith admits the path to her current position was hindered more by her location than her gender.
"I'd say the barriers are bigger for rural and regional women to get into these careers," she said.
"When I was growing up, there weren't those role models, and I think they were harder to find in smaller towns. How many people in small towns would see a scientist at work and really know they were one?"
Before returning to academia, Professor Smith ran a successful physiotherapy business in Sydney.
When the opportunity arose to teach at the university, Professor Smith took on the new challenge and thereby combined her two childhood passions - teaching and physical sciences.
Now, 21 years after she first took up a position at Charles Sturt University, she has begun to see herself filling the role model void for science-minded young women.
With her two sons - aged 15 and 19 - she believes her role in the home and in the lab is to break down the gender divides.
"When I started [as the dean] I had to ask myself, what does it look like for me, a woman, to be the dean of science," she said.
"It's a reality that many women feel that impostor syndrome, that they're carrying all other women with them and they feel the need to do a good job for the sake of all other women.
"We often have to do more, work harder and be better, but that will change."
But that pressure to succeed beyond expectations, Professor Smith readily admits is self-imposed.
"I feel very supported by my colleagues and the people I supervise, so it makes me think this is what we put on ourselves," she said.
She credits the university's forward insight in promoting her to the position, while many of her female colleagues at other institutions have not enjoyed such opportunities.
"There had been a long history of men in this role, and I think the timing was right for me," she said.
"I knew I had the skills to do the job, [but] when I applied for the job, I didn't know if they would put in in the role, or whether there was a stereotype, an image they wanted to present which is traditionally a male with a long history in research.
"I didn't see any reason why I couldn't do it."
In its 30 years of history, Charles Sturt University has had one other female dean of sciences, but she was never officially appointed to the position. Instead, she took on the acting role.
"I am lucky, I've always had people around me that have said I could do it," Professor Smith said.
"That's really important, people never said to me I can't do it."
Over her years in science, Professor Smith has noticed a pattern among her colleague. Even as the tables turn and women begin to dominate the worlds of physiotherapy and medical sciences, there are still few women in the top positions.
"You have to ask yourself why are the leader, the higher paid positions taken by men," she said.
"The voice of women becomes more diluted as you go up, and young girls, unfortunately, get to think that to be an expert in something is to be a man.
"The more diversity a company has, the better it will perform and not having women in these places means we don't have their range of views."