Meet our Science Ambassadors
Our Science Ambassadors are current students in the Faculty of Science from across many different disciplines; they volunteer their time to help with a range of future student, alumni and current student activities.
Amanda Hwei Ee Loh
"UniMelb provides a safe platform and sufficient support for students to discover their inner passion and strengths. It isn't all about results in UoM, it's also about the life we live in Melbourne." -Amanda
I aim to pursue Music Neuropsychology within the Neuroscience field. It’s an extremely specialized area and there aren’t many people that had delved into it just yet, but it’s my dream to integrate music, neuroscience and psychology. The lecturers I've gotten thus far in UoM has been one of the best lecturers I had ever been taught by. I still can't believe that some of my favourite textbook authors are teaching me live, and this is probably the best experience ever.
Hailing from a Commerce background before university, it is due to sheer determination as well as mentoring that got me to where I am today. It started with attending a Bio-Psychology talk back in Malaysia, whereby I first met my mentor, who coincidentally was the Head of Department of the program I was in. Her speech was awe-inspiring and talking to her more about it after the speech made me more intrigued in the area of Biology with Psychology. Since then I have been hooked on Neuroscience.
What made me ultimately choose UniMelb was the student-life that the university would be able to provide me with. UniMelb provides a safe platform and sufficient support for students to discover their inner passion and strengths. It isn't all about results in UoM, it's also about the life we live in Melbourne. UniMelb provides a safe platform and sufficient support for students to discover their inner passion and strengths. It isn't all about results in UoM, it's also about the life we live in Melbourne.
I’ve only been in UniMelb for two years, and in this short amount of time I’ve met true friends, developed good skills and am determined to get a good career. Being put into a situation where I’m living away from my parents, I have had to be independent. This can be tiresome, but at the end of the day I usually get a feeling of accomplishment.
"Discovering creative, innovative climate change adaptation & mitigation methods inspired me to start a Geography major." -Benjamin
I began my Bachelor of Science wanting to pursue health sciences by seeing what the positive impact that health care had on my family & friends, and started completing pre-requisites for graduate entry. After my first yearI took a Gap Year undertook a placement as an Outdoor Education Instructor in Anglesea, Victoria. I worked with students and community groups - teaching them the basics in rock climbing, canoeing, cycling and surfing etc. I had a fantastic time and discovered my love for working outdoors, researching interactions between people and the environment and encouraging them (especially students) to engage and learn about the nature around them.
The internship also led me to get involved in learning about community development and making a difference in the levies of those around me: I realised that people did care about the environment, i.e. climate change, but often did not have the tools, knowledge or support to make meaningful changes in their lives. Discovering creative, innovative climate change adaptation & mitigation methods inspired me to start a Geography major when I returned to study.
My course has meant travelling internationally to learn about climate change resilience in some inspiring communities and environments; studying glaciers in New Zealand, learning about landscape management with rural farming communities in China and working with aid organisations in East Timor in climate change resilience to name a few! It has allowed me to make many new friends across the world and network with inspiring and friendly academics. Plus, getting involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities! From volunteering in the Community Garden and Student Welfare, to teaching at Collingwood Children’s Farm & working for the Students At Work program.
My dream career would be to work with environmental education in the Asia Pacific Region; empowering local community leaders through the Asia Pacific region to respond creatively and innovatively to climate change through social enterprise. I have learnt that knowledge and talent are incredibly valuable, but interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate ideas clearly and critically is just as important!
Benjamin received the Melbourne Global Mobility Award and a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant, which have helped him travel to New Zealand and China respectively. He has also been working toward the Leaders in Community Award (LiCA). Find out more about LiCA here.
Brad Den Heijer
"From medicine to business or research to law, all of these options remain open to you while studying a Bachelor of Science." -Brad
I moved to Melbourne after completing high school in New Zealand and for that reason the University has been a great platform to meet a lot of new people, develop some life-long friendships and really experience all that Melbourne and Australia has to offer. The fact that the University is right in the heart of Melbourne’s biomedical research precinct which opens up a lot of opportunities for further study and work, influenced my decision to come here.
There is nowhere a degree in Science can’t take you. From medicine to business or research to law, all of these options remain open to you while studying a Bachelor of Science and the Melbourne Model really allows you to figure out what you are most interested in during your degree.
I have thoroughly enjoyed studying genetics and biotechnology because they are areas of immense growth and expansion. Not only do they involve very interesting theory and principles, but these fields also have the capacity to create positive change in the world around me – right down to the individual level in human and medical genetics, and large industrial improvements in areas such as biopharmaceuticals and agricultural biotechnology.
The hardest part of university life is choosing exactly what it is you want to get involved in – there is so much to offer from clubs and societies, to sport and theatre. Getting involved in these activities can be a great way to enrich your university experience. However, with so many options it can be a fine balance because you still want to leave enough time for your studies!
Eileen Phoenix Aquino Lam
"I am specifically interested in viruses; how they can affect our immune system and how they have co-evolved with us." -Eileen
Studying here at the University of Melbourne is not just studying for me. It has meant new friends I have met from lectures, clubs and events. I am very blessed to have met all these amazing wonderful people some of whom have become my close friends.
I have always loved science since a young girl. Watching all those Animal Planet and Discovery Channel documentaries has fuelled my love for science. Having great science teachers from a very young age and seeing women in science has inspired me to pursue a career in science. Also just the wonderful world created around us has gotten me fascinated and amazed by the wonderful work and art that is life and science.
My dream career would be a biomedical researcher, particularly in the areas of microbiology/immunology, working in the lab with other cool scientists from all different science backgrounds. I am specifically interested in viruses and how they can affect our immune system and how they have co-evolved with us. There is also so much we don’t know about microbiology and immunology that I can’t help but wonder what is out there for us to discover.
While at high school, I was still sheltered under my teachers. Coming to university, I just didn’t expect the amount of freedom but also self-responsibility that came with it. Suddenly there was no one at university to hold my hand. But I also realised that the helping hands so many students seek of are actually just there; not holding onto us but beside us so that whenever we need help, we can always reach out and hold on to a hand.
Eileen has achieved the Leaders in Communities Award (LiCA). Find out more about LiCA here.
"I've really enjoyed the variety and scope that I’ve experienced with my subjects, as well as practical components such as field trips and camps to locations outside of Melbourne." -Harriet
I’ve always loved animals and the environment, and I hope to contribute to the conservation of organisms and ecosystems by learning about ecology and conservation and gaining practical research skills. I was attracted by the broad range of subjects offered throughout the Faculty of Science, as well as the ability to choose a more specific focus and pathway later in the degree.
I really appreciate the flexibility of study within my course at the University of Melbourne, and the university’s great reputation both locally and internationally helps to be more confident about the quality of education and post-graduation employment prospects. I’ve also really enjoyed the friendly and welcoming atmosphere and the wide variety of extra-curricular activities offered, such as student-run clubs which cater for a huge range of interests!
I've really enjoyed the variety and scope that I’ve experienced with my subjects, as well as practical components such as field trips and camps to locations outside of Melbourne. I’ve also been able to follow my passion and carry out a number of research-focussed subjects in my third year, meaning that I’ve been able to enjoy my time studying while still gaining useful skills for after graduation.
Kok Loong Chu
"I was inspired to pursue Veterinary Medicine by my passion for animals and the innate desire to want to see all animals in their best health." -Kok Loong
I chose the University of Melbourne because of its proximity to Singapore (compared to America or UK), the study pathway via the Melbourne Model, the prestige of the school, people who had studied here telling me it was great, and finally because Melbourne is a really awesome place with so much to offer! So far I have met amazing friends from all walks of life, from all over the world.
The university has opened a door to many exciting opportunities ahead and allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian. I was inspired to pursue Veterinary Medicine by my passion for animals and the innate desire to want to see all animals in their best health. I hope to be able to treat all kinds of animals and also wish to be the owner of a world-class veterinary clinic.
"My dream career is to work in a multinational pharmaceutical company as a business development manager, where I travel the world and interact with new people." -Michelle
My introduction to Biotechnology was when I was taught genetic engineering at school. I took biotechnology as a core subject during high school and never looked back since. I went on to do my Bachelors and now Masters in the same field, broadening my knowledge and experience.
Attending numerous workshops, seminars and networking events have benefited my professional development as a graduate student. I get the opportunity to meet passionate individuals from the industry, exchange ideas and obtain career advice.
The University of Melbourne is where I invest in myself, embrace the challenges and pursue my passion ruthlessly to achieve my goals. There are lot of career options after my Biotechnology degree, which I did not realise before. My dream career is to work in a multinational pharmaceutical company as a business development manager, where I travel the world and interact with new people.
"Listen to advice, but in the end, make the choice that you are happiest with, strive towards your goal, and you will do extremely well." -Nathan
I initially chose the Bachelor of Biomedicine, and completed my first year in that course. However, I did not find that course to be personally fulfilling, as it left many of my interests such as physics and engineering, unanswered, and so I transferred to the Bachelor of Science at the beginning of my second year. I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions that I have made, as Science has been extremely rewarding, interesting, exciting and inspiring. The subjects are incredibly challenging yet rewarding at the same time, and really explore the potential of each student. Additionally the University of Melbourne fosters a wonderful environment to make and deepen friendships, which is definitely an important highlight for me.
I don’t actually have a particularly dream career that I want to strive towards. Going forwards into the future, there will be so many new jobs created that don’t exist now, in conjunction with all the careers that do exist now that I don’t yet know about. I am keen to explore and broaden my horizons, and find a career that is rewarding and fulfilling.
University has taught me how big the world really is. It is so easy to get caught up in school life and the school routine, and to sometimes forget that so much is happening in the world that we are unaware of. There is so much knowledge out there, so many intelligent people, and so many ways to help you grow in character. It is okay to feel a little overwhelmed at everything, but there are many services at the university, career counsellors, the internet, and people who are there to help you. Listen to advice, but in the end, make the choice that you are happiest with, strive towards your goal, and you will do extremely well.
"The Melbourne Model is structured so that you can try a variety of subjects. This way, you have the opportunity to try a whole range of subjects and see what suits you the best." -Nayana
After attending the Open Day, I knew I wanted to study at the Univerisity of Melbourne. I loved the idea of being able to call this beautiful campus home, and knowing that I would be able to get a world class education during my time here made my decision very easy. I also did not want to go into a very specific degree straight out of high school, so the Melbourne Model suited me well.
Coming into my degree, I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice doing a Bachelor of Science. That said, during my first year I took a wide range of classes to try out different aspects of science and found myself in a stream that I am now in, and love! My time here is making me a better, well-rounded person and will hopefully help me achieve my future goals.
I went on exchange to America and studied at the University of Virginia for a semester. This was an incredible experience as for five months, my life consisted of meeting people from all around the world, experiencing life as an American student and travelling. I could not recommend going on exchange enough. It really opened my eyes up to possibilities for the future and, in the process, I made lifelong friends dotted around the globe.
Don’t worry too much about whether you’ve made the right choice in terms of what you are studying. The Melbourne Model is structured so that you can try a variety of subjects. This way, you have the opportunity to try a whole range of subjects and see what suits you the best.
"I would like to be able to benefit disadvantaged nations whose people lack the technological benefits I’m fortunate enough as a citizen of a first world state to consider mundane." -Phil
Science is endlessly fascinating. So much that is mysterious has been demystified by science throughout history, and yet for evermore there will exist phenomena awaiting explanation. I love ideas and this area of study fuels an already keen interest in understanding the world surrounding me.
Melbourne’s high entry standards results in every student you meet having some positive combination of smarts and work ethic, with engaging opinions and ideas of their own. This creates a dynamic atmosphere within which to both become educated and grow as a person.
I would like to be able to benefit disadvantaged nations whose people lack the technological benefits I’m fortunate enough as a citizen of a first world state to consider mundane – such as potable water. Humanity needs to push forward, to look beyond perceived limitations and find solutions to global challenges, and I want to be a part of it. I see the study of engineering as equipping me with the tools to make the most of my talents to this end.
"Never be afraid to try new things. The opportunities provided here to develop yourself are endless." -Ruchir
Studying at University of Melbourne has meant a lot to me. Throughout the course, the modules along with my interactions with faculty, industrialists and peers in my field have been valuable to my career path. Melbourne has a good start-up scene and a booming Biotech (healthcare, food) industry.
Current research developments in the biotechnology field and the variety and breadth of applications of this field in everyday life fuelled my interest to join this study area. I didn’t expect to learn how deeply interconnected biotechnology and business are. My dream career is to own a start-up company specialising in wine-making in South Australia.
Never be afraid to try new things. The opportunities provided here to develop yourself are endless… smart work and humour are keys to success!
"Breadth has enabled me to appreciate the non-scientific parts of society, such as the history and the development of the Japanese language." -Selena
The high-tech laboratory facilities and the dedication to science of our enthusiastic academics during open day talks, really appealed to me about this university. In addition, there are numerous research facilities partnering with the University of Melbourne, and I think being a Melbourne University student gives you more opportunities to network with project managers and senior demonstrators.
I knew I liked science but I wasn’t sure which specific field I wanted to study or work in. The best advice I can give would be to get involved with university events such as career talks, discovery tours or club and societies, to get more understanding of what kind of person you are and what you are really dedicated in doing. This will definitely help you with your course planning.
Studying Japanese as breadth has been more than merely introducing vocabulary and grammar; it is a combination of exploring new ways of learning to maximise our understanding of the Japanese culture as well as improving team work skills. It has enabled me to appreciate the non-scientific parts of society such as the history and the development of the Japanese language.
"Go up and talk to people, ask questions, join clubs, do subjects that aren't with your friends - don't be afraid to jump a little bit out of your comfort zone." -Serina
I've always been interested in science as it explains so much of what happens around us. Particularly, I am so fascinated by the human mind and body and its ability to function in everyday life without us needing any conscious control over it. In terms of career I'd love to be able to work on the human brain as I'm constantly fascinated by that, but in terms of whether that means in research or further into the realms of medicine - I just don't know yet.
Through studying at Melbourne I've been able to push my boundaries in terms of what I've been able to learn and experience. I have loved the broad variety of subjects I’ve taken and the resources particular topics use to reinforce learning. Currently, I’m doing 3rd year anatomy subjects which use real human cadaveric tissue and it is so surreal that the layers you see in text books are actually there physically!
I think the biggest thing about university is you have to really embrace the experience. Go up and talk to people, ask questions, join clubs, do subjects that aren't with your friends - don't be afraid to jump a little bit out of your comfort zone.
- Mitchell Stephen
For those who want experiential learning with industry engagement that leads to a real job and terrific experiences out in the bush, then I suggest that you undertake the Forest Science Major.Bachelor of Science, Civil Systems major
- Chloe Marie
My honours project looks at determining the origin of particular sediments in an interglacial sequence from the Neoproterozoic.Bachelor of Science with Honours
- Peter McDonald
I was inspired to study chemistry by the desire to understand how things work at an atomic level.Bachelor of Science with Honours
Cara Dawn Faulkner
Cara’s major in mathematical physics is driven by her passion for astrophysics and quantum physics.
In primary school I was exposed to science fiction, which I found fascinating and from there I started reading material on physics and mathematics in my spare time. I was drawn to Melbourne University because of its fantastic reputation (particularly in regards to its physics department) and the high academic standard it upholds. It also has an excellent location and the grounds and facilities are great.
Even though the studies can be academically challenging, I've found it really rewarding and I've been able to connect with other students at all levels and faculty staff through some great networking events.
Whilst I haven't yet narrowed down my exact dream career, I know that I want to research maths and physics and some of the particular fields of interest for me are astrophysics and quantum physics.
"It was the middle of winter and we were learning about fire behaviour on a fire table using real fire." -Mitchell
Towards the end of my degree I completed the Forest Science major capstone subject Forest Systems. I was studying the Civil Systems major and had plans for a career in engineering but after completing this subject I am now a Forest Fire-fighter.
It was the middle of winter and we were learning about fire behaviour on a fire table using real fire. The session was run by a representative from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning who not only educated us about fire behaviour but also about the possible careers in this area. I followed their advice and applied to become a Project Fire Fighter for that summer. I was successful and that summer headed out to Cann River in eastern Victoria for my first fire fighting adventure.
That summer was spent fighting a number of small forest fires and undertaking planned burns for the next fire season. The fire table activity really came to life here and helped me appreciate and understand the power of fire and the reasoning behind the strategies that we were using. The camaraderie of the job is terrific and it was great to be working in the bush. Most of the time was spent four wheel driving and chain sawing, with lunch often spent at a river, beach or a great lookout.
From there an opportunity came up in the Tiwi Islands over the winter months to work as a firefighter. So with only a handful of wildfires and a few more burns under my belt down in Victoria, I soon found myself taking on the role as second in charge on the ground, sometimes even running some of the smaller, safer burns by myself. Talk about a steep learning curve! This experience was enjoyable, unique, full of learning, memorable, challenging and primarily a bunch of laughs.
Last summer I was back in Cann River and I got the chance to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles in the crew. I am now looking to extend my fire management knowledge through postgraduate study. For those who want experiential learning with industry engagement that leads to a real job and terrific experiences out in the bush, then I suggest that you undertake the Forest Science Major.
Despite my parents being avid gardeners, my interest in Horticulture didn’t develop until I started growing my own veggies about six years ago. The physical, mental and emotional benefits of being outdoors and working with nature led me to the Associate Degree of Horticulture at Burnley. I graduated in December of last year, and I am now about to commence the Bachelor of Environments at Parkville!
I grew up in an Artistic family, so design was a natural choice for me, and has allowed me to marry my visual communication skills with my desire to contribute to a healthy earth and society. Through my further study I am keen to explore the innovative ways in which design and horticulture can be implemented to create more successful green spaces, both public and private.
Jaz won 3rd place at the 2016 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS).
James is completing a major in Chemistry alongside a Diploma of Mathematical Science
Whilst attending two youth science forums, NYSF (Perth, 2013) and LIYSF (London, 2013), I was fortunate to hear from several distinguished scientists and see science in action at facilities such as CERN. These experiences inspired me to pursue chemistry, through which we can understand so much of the natural world around us. I find it fascinating that chemistry can explain physical phenomena by considering interactions between the smallest of objects. My interest for statistics was piqued in second year, when I was first able to appreciate the role maths has in forging new knowledge from data. This helps us to draw informed conclusions, which seems particularly relevant in this information epoch.
As science branches ever further outwards, it has become increasingly difficult for scientists to specialise in multiple areas. I hope to be able to communicate science across disciplinary boundaries and to synthesise and distil the information down to the level where policy-makers can use it effectively. Either that, or I'd love to use statistics to help improve conditions in the developing world, by creating and analysing models for complex issues such as food distribution, climate change or disease outbreak. Immediately after I graduate, I want to travel to Peru and tackle the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Certain subjects can completely change the way you view the world. For me, studying Famine (GEOG10001) and Intro to International Politics (INST10001) provided these revelations, opening my mind to radically different perspectives through frameworks such as Sen's Entitlement Theory and Feminism/Gender in Politics. I never anticipated it, but university introduced me to feminism, through which my perception of the world has undoubtedly changed for the better. I hope that I am more aware of privilege and inequality now (with respect to gender, race and other arbitrary classifications), and I have made time to volunteer for a program that aims to tackle educational inequality in Victoria.
James received the 2015 Huntsman Australia Prize.
I have always had a passion for science and maths, but my inspiration for studying a Bachelor of Science came through the National Youth Science Forum. I was able to get hands-on experience in different science fields, and this inspired me to continue studying science in the hope of being able to use my skills to help others. Also, seeing the difference science and technology can make to the lives of everyone, in so many diverse and interesting ways, inspired me to continue studying in the STEM fields.
Meeting so many new likeminded people in my degree has been a big highlight of first year, as I have made lifelong friendships and formed great bonds with people in my degree who share a passion for biology. I have really enjoyed being able to study Italian as breadth through my Bachelor of Science, as it has allowed me to continue developing my language skills from high school as well as giving me the opportunity to study something outside of my specific degree. Another highlight would be the opportunity to go on exchange. This year, I was accepted to study abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It is an exciting experience to be able to go overseas and travel while still gaining credit towards my degree.
The Bachelor of Science is a fantastic course that challenges you to work hard and exlore areas of science, maths, technology and engineering all within the same degree. It allows you to keep your options open get hands-on experience through prac subjects, lab visits and internships. I would love to work as a genetic councillor, helping families learn more about their genetics and discuss the likelihood of disease in their children, or work as a researcher on various genetic conditions to find causes, preventions and cures.
In my Undergraduate I decided on a major in Geology but also took subjects in Biology, Zoology and breadth in Anthropology. At present I am completing an Honours in Earth Sciences (Geology) focussing on sedimentary geology. My project looks at determining the origin of particular sediments in an interglacial sequence from the Neoproterozoic.
The thing that I love about science is the problem solving and endless possibilities. It makes me really excited about my work. I had some fabulous science teachers in high school who were really passionate about what they taught, and were successful at transferring their passion and enthusiasm to me, which is why I ended up pursuing it.
Field work is by far a stand out for me, both in my Undergraduate course and my Honours. My geology field trips have always been fun and challenging and have proven to be a great environment in which to bond with my fellow students, demonstrators and professors. Something a little out of the ordinary that I have enjoyed was volunteering to help out on the Melbourne Museum Dinosaur Dig.
Chloe received the 2014 PW Crohn Scholarship.
Peter’s Chemistry Honours is in inorganic synthesis; looking at magnetic molecules.
I have always been inquisitive, but watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos really inspired me to want to know more about the world and how things work. I was inspired to study chemistry by the desire to understand how things work at the atomic level, and how to exploit this for the benefit of Earth's inhabitants. I had to complete my VCE again as I was a musician and had not studied science previously.
Studying at the University of Melbourne means a great deal to me, as I get to learn from world class academics doing important research. It has a great reputation for research and development and I get to be surrounded and inspired by deep thinkers. Also, the lush greenery is aesthetically pleasing to be around.
I decided to come back to study after being a drummer in various bands. I have been playing drums for many years and music is a passion of mine. I still play a few gigs around Melbourne town at local pubs and clubs, which is a great creative outlet and a way to reset my mind when study gets to be too much.
James received the 2014 Huntsman Australia Prize.
I have always been interested in learning about neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease. Our memories essentially make us who we are - the thought of losing them devastated me and inspired me to want to learn more about the brain. Hopefully, I will be there when researchers discover a cure.
The highlight of my studies so far would be the opportunity to participate in clubs and programs outside of classes. In neuroscience we not only get to learn science content, but also about the brain research that is currently happening. Don't stress too much if you're still not sure what you want to do by the end of high school. The Bachelor of Science provides great flexibility and gives you chance to discover a breadth of all the sciences available.
For a few weeks at the end of 2016, April was a presenter in the Science Delivery Program. Find out more about the program here.
The highlight of my studies so far has been attending the Future Chemist/Biologist International Summer Camp (FCISC) 2016 in China. It has confirmed my interest in biomedical research while giving me the opportunity to make like-minded friends from all over the world. I now want to pursue biomedical research in the multi-disciplinary field of Immunology, Pathogenesis & Vaccine Design to improve the health of children, as I believe good health is an important priority.
The Bachelor of Science is a very flexible course, so use it to your advantage. If you don't know what you want to do, use the flexibility to explore the different subjects before choosing a major. If you know what major you want to do, BSci gives you the ability to precisely and perfectly complement your major.
Find out more about the FCISC here.
- Matilda O’Connor
To think that the world is around 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans only live to a mere 80, blows my mind.BSc – Geology
MSc – Earth Sciences
- Conor Butler
With climate and environment related problems looming particularly large, I was interested in getting a more interdisciplinary understanding of these problems than my social sciences background had given me.Master of Environment
Using the MSc to shift careers, Peter is studying a Master of Computer Science with an interest in Bioinformatics and has been offered a position in the field before graduating.
For some time, I've been interested in applying my skills to problems that can really help people, particularly by applying the relatively recent fields of machine learning, AI, and big data techniques to problems such as the analysis of the human genome.
Through my studies, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from domain experts in the field. Their passion, knowledge, and drive has been contagious. I feel that I am part of a community of like-minded people who are always there to help and motivate.
I was recently offered a position at the VLSCI (Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative) while finishing my MSc part time. I'm looking forward to establishing my career in this area and applying my newly acquired skills to interesting and worthwhile problems, by learning from and contributing to the latest research as a part of a motivated and inspiring community of researchers.
I am comparing brown coal in the Lower Rhine Embayment in Germany with La Trobe Valley brown coal in Victoria. Lithotype cycles in the brown coals of La Trobe Valley display well-developed lightening-upwards trends. I will be looking at these depositional successions in the German (Rhenish) brown coals to determine if they follow similar colour grading trends.
As part of my research I am going Germany to complete my fieldwork and take samples to bring back to Australia. I will be working alongside a German geologist (who speaks little English) in one of the brown coal mines just outside of Cologne, in a small medieval town called Bedburg. Although it will be challenging, I cannot wait for this experience; to actually look at the brown coal I have been reading about for so long, to improve my German and to work alongside someone who has been in the industry for many years.
I completed my undergraduate at the University of Melbourne, majoring in geology. Geology is a relatively small faculty at UniMelb, so getting to know the professors/lecturers is a lot easier. Because of this, I could discuss a range of projects with the academic staff and choose something that focused my interests.
Geology is truly a fascinating science; to think that the world is around 4.5 billion years old, and we as humans only live to a mere 80, blows my mind. I also love the outdoors and learning about the processes that have created the beautiful planet we live on. Understanding the earth’s history is important for the development of society both economically and environmentally. Because I am so passionate about earth sciences, I guess any job in geology would be a dream job. Obviously, my heart is in coal, so working alongside others who are passionate about coal would be amazing.
With the world population ever climbing, biotechnology has the ability to directly answer problems related to the demand for food, medicines and many other key global challenges. The Master of Biotechnology uniquely offers a taste of both research and industry, so I jumped at the opportunity to explore either option.
As a part of the industry project in the degree, our group has been tasked with identifying the key influencers of a novel peanut allergy vaccine currently being developed by a relevantly new start-up biotech company. Already within this first month of working on the project, I have met three CEOs, put together a professional charter and have begun sketching the competitive landscape for our product. Over the next few months I’ll get to meet other key people involved in the process of commercialising a biotech product, including the IP lawyers and the lead researchers. With access to some of the finest resources, my team and I will put together a report that the company will use.
I have relished the sense of community within the Master of Biotechnology; I’m happy to say that most faces of our year are now familiar to me. There is a strong focus on teamwork in the coursework, meaning that you do a fair amount of group work within your core subjects. It’s been truly rewarding; I met my closest friends in the course through group assignments.
Having studied environmental issues from a social science and humanities perspective in my undergraduate degree I was determined that I wanted to engage with environmental challenges through a more scientific lens. Forestry appealed to me as an area of study because it would allow me to pursue my new interest in the environmental sciences while at the same time continuing to engage with socio-economic drivers which influence environmental outcomes that I examined throughout my undergraduate degree.
The highlight of my course has been the Bushfire and Climate intensive subject at the Creswick campus. I gained an understanding of the principles of bushfire science and the application of fire spread prediction modelling for bushfire management in Victoria. This subject has played a critical role in determining my career direction going forward. After undertaking the subject I became inspired to undertake a masters research project related to bushfire management. I am now hoping to work for the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning in a bushfire management role.
The International Forestry Student Symposium (IFSS) is an annual event held each year by the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA), and I was awarded $1500 from the Julia Hale Trust to attend the IFSS in Manila and Los Baños in the Philippines during July 2015. The event program involved a lecture program about forestry context in the Philippines, field trips to areas of interest and the IFSA plenary sessions. The event provided me the opportunity to enhance the relationship between IFSA and the University of Melbourne, develop international networks among forestry students and young foresters, gain insights into forestry challenges and practices in many parts of the world and gain an in depth understanding of the forestry context in the Philippines. It has given me a range of new insights into the diversity of the field and the importance of forest science globally in addressing environmental, social and economic challenges.
I gained some insights into the history of deforestation in the Philippines and some of the challenges facing Filipino forest managers today. We were introduced to a broad range of reforestation projects which are being undertaken by governments, international environmental organisations, local communities and private industry in the Philippines. Another valuable education opportunity for me was being able to visit mangrove forests for the first time. We learnt about the delicate ecology of these ecosystems and the important role they play to coastal communities, by reducing the erosive impact of cyclone storm surges. I was able to contribute to a mangrove rehabilitation project by spending an afternoon planting mangrove trees.
When I was very young I was always very excited about understanding how things worked- I would take them apart and look inside, or drop them and see if they bounced. My curiosity extended to all avenues of the sciences, and with further study I found my way to the most fundamental path to understanding- down to the tiniest of constituents.
Studying at the University of Melbourne has meant having the flexibility to find what I enjoy studying the most, and explore all avenues which interest me. It has also meant developing a deeper understanding of my area of study before I chose to pursue it by engaging with excellent academic and research staff at the University. The highlight of my studies has been joining my current research group and being able to participate in the Centre of Excellence in Particle Physics (CoEPP) at the Terascale conference over last summer- where I presented some work I did while employed as a Summer Student.
My dream is to work in academia: I would love to be able to continue learning through research, and to share my knowledge with others via teaching.
Conor is specialising in Governance, Policy and Communication.
My concern about how societies are dealing with the risks created by a modernised/globalised world led me to pursue the Master of Environment. With climate and environment related problems looming particularly large, I was interested in getting a more interdisciplinary understanding of these problems than my social sciences background had given me.
The highlight of my studies has been encountering more diverse and critical approaches to discussing environmental problems, and feeling like I can contribute to this. I would like to either pursue work in research/academia, or in policy or consulting to put my skills to good use.
For anyone considering the course, keep an open mind to the quite different takes on environmental issues offered by the various schools of thought one might encounter. Academics and fellow students in the Master of Environment think across very abstract to applied, concrete disciplines, but it's very rewarding to genuinely listen to opinions that may seem discordant with your own.
Receving the Professor John Lovering Graduate Environmental Program Scholarship will allow me to focus time on developing a more worthwhile and significant piece of research over the coming year.
- Luis Orozco Aguilar
“I have developed a novel method (less-invasive, fast and reliable) to assess the growth rates and age of urban trees. Using this method I have studied trees within Melbourne's urban forest that are up to 135 years old, healthy and growing at 2.2mm per year; which is pretty wonderful.”PhD specialising in Urban Forests
- Himali Ratnayake
I love being able to explain the complex phenomena we see in an intricate yet simple way, with the ultimate goal of conserving species for the future.PhD specialising in Zoology
- Anne Aulsebrook
For my PhD I’m researching how urban street lights affect urban birds, including black swans.PhD specialising in Zoology
- Vera Korasidis
I enjoy using palaeontology and sedimentology to reconstruct and understand the Earth’s past environments and climates.BSc(Hons) - Geology
PhD specialising in basin analysis
- W. Tyler Mehler
I became an avid fisherman at a young age (although never a good one) and liked to find and/or catch the different organisms that were associated with each ecosystem, whether it be invertebrates, frogs, and or fish.PhD specialising in aquatic toxicology
Luis Orozco Aguilar
Urban trees are valuable assets for modern cities and they deliver important environmental and social benefits that enhance city liveability. My background is in Forestry and Agroforestry, so working with trees within an urban context now in line with my passion for crops and trees. From my point of view, urban forestry is both a challenging and rewarding research field with a promising future, particularly in Latin America.
During my PhD I have developed a novel method (less-invasive, fast and reliable) to assess the growth rates and age of urban trees. Traditional methods of dendrochronology (dating tree rings) are time-consuming; require specialized equipment and software and, ultimately; the coring points may function as potential entry courts for wood decay fungi. The development of this method is therefore important in the field of arboriculture and will improve measurements of urban tree biomass and growth. Using this method I have studied trees within Melbourne's urban forest that are up to 135 years old, healthy and growing at 2.2mm per year; which is pretty wonderful.
Luck is the intersection between preparation and opportunity, so don't give up, peruse your career, study hard and you will eventually achieve your profession.
Luis has received the Madeleine Selwyn-Smith Memorial Award and a Frank Keenan Scholarship.
I've always been fascinated by how biological processes work. During my undergraduate studies this was reconfirmed as I became passionate about learning how animals respond to changing environments. I love being able to explain the complex phenomena we see in an intricate yet simple way, with the ultimate goal of conserving species for the future.
While going through the list of qualified and highly cited supervisors at the University of Melbourne, the work by my principal supervisor, A/Prof Michael Kearney, struck out and I knew that this was the place for me. The pinnacle of my career so far was getting accepted to pursue my PhD at the University of Melbourne. It was a dream-come-true when I received the acceptance and scholarship letters, and my life thereon changed for the better!
There have been many highlights of my studies, including winning student grants, being able to understand complicated mechanistic models, going to my field sites and observing huge colonies of bats. The most significant highlight for me was to present my work at the annual meeting of the Australia New Zealand Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry in front of pioneers of the field, and winning an award for the best speed talk.
Himali received the Margaret Catto Scholarship.
"By studying the past we can disentangle the events that led to changes in the natural environments and we can predict scenarios in the focus of a climate-changing future." -Michela
I am inspired by the notion that the past holds the key to understand the future. By studying the past we can disentangle the events that led to changes in the natural environments and we can predict scenarios in the focus of a climate-changing future. My research focuses on the reconstruction of past fire activities and related environmental changes across the Southern Hemisphere, especially western Tasmania. I'm now in the second year of my PhD, and so far have managed to publish a paper in a relevant international journal and showcase my findings at an important conference in Chile.
More recently, I received the Allan Gilmour Award from the Faculty of Science and this constitutes a very important step forward to proceed with my research; allowing me to participate in a workshop in Europe. As well as helping me connect with other experts in my field of study, this workshop will allow me to deeply understand the mathematical models applied to fossil pollen records to estimate either regional or local vegetation changes. Since my data collection will be completed by the time of the workshop, I will also be able to use my data to test the models with the supervision of experts. This methodology has not been applied in Australia yet, thus this research will also represent a step forward in Australian palaeoecology. After all the time I've spent in the lab and on the computer, I can say I'm really satisfied now!
Melbourne was suggested to me by researchers where I was working in Italy. Once I had contacted my current supervisor and discussed the research project, I got very interested in it and I decided to apply for a scholarship...and I'm still very happy about this choice! My advice would be that if you want to undertake a successful PhD in Science, you must be passionate and willing to devote your time to this amazing discipline.
Michela received the John and Allan Gilmour Research Award.
Anne was the runner up in 2016 3 Minute Thesis competition. Her Grand Final Presentation is below:
I completed a Bachelor of Science in 2011, with a double specialisation in pure and applied mathematics. When I was choosing my breadth subjects in first-year, a subject adviser suggested I might like microeconomics. I didn't expect to learn economics at university and I certainly didn't expect it would become a major research focus of my PhD.
In 2013 I finished my Masters of Science (Mathematics and Statistics) specialising in the application of mathematics on economics. During this I began to appreciate how mathematics can be used as a powerful tool to gain insight into problems in a variety of fields and applications.
Studying at the University of Melbourne has given me the opportunity to pursue my research interests in mathematics and economics with excellent supervision and mentoring. It has given me a broad range of experiences, such as living on campus at Janet Clarke Hall, tutoring undergraduates and travelling overseas. I would encourage science students to consider taking mathematics subjects, as they equip you with valuable quantitative, problem-solving and analytical skills.
The environment and its biodiversity is our natural capital. However, the way in which we are exploiting natural resources, destroying natural forests, diminishing our wildlife, and warming the global temperature no amount of money could help us in the coming future. We need to protect our environment, ecosystem and associated biodiversity through insightful research for our own well-being.
There is a growing body of literature on increased biodiversity loss; species extinction; habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation due to unsustainable use of natural resources. Anthropogenic climate change has added an extra pressure on the vulnerability of species’ existence. Historically, global biodiversity has been undervalued and its loss has been considered a negligible cost.
My current focus is on assessing the climate change vulnerability of freshwater invertebrates. Climate change is arguably the greatest emerging threat to the functioning of local ecosystems and in turn to global biodiversity. Anthropogenic climate change may disrupt species’ sensitivity (species’ inability to persist in situ), exposure (the extent to which species are exposed to changing environment), and low adaptability. All species must follow the rule of ‘adapt, migrate, or perish’. Freshwater invertebrates are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of the limited dispersability, water temperature and availability, and exposure to various anthropogenic threats. As the apex creature on earth we have ethical reasons to save all of the species within it and leave the earth as a beautiful living place for our future generations.
I am focussing my studies on Geology, specifically sedimentology and palaeontology which includes palynology and plant microfossils. I enjoy using palaeontology and sedimentology to reconstruct and understand the Earth’s past environments and climates.
My interest in science was well established even as a young child. I was always fascinated with the earth and wanting to learn more about why and how the earth and all the natural features on it formed. This passion has remained with me to this day and continues to inspire me as I undertake my PhD.
Some of the highlights of my course so far have included undertaking fieldwork in some stunning locations across Australia including the Flinders Ranges, the Otway Ranges, the Buchan Caves, the Hunter Valley and Cape Liptrap.
Outside of university I enjoy doing classical ballet and other styles of dance including jazz and tap dancing. I also really enjoy hiking and travelling throughout Australia.
Vera has received The John Lovering Prize, The Professor Kernot Research Scholarship (Earth Sciences) with the J.H. Harvey Prize, The Howitt Natural History Scholarship and The Baragwanath Geology Research Travel Scholarship.
My PhD research is in astrophysics. Specifically, I’m using the Hubble Space Telescope to detect the most distant galaxies known. We can see these galaxies as they were over 13 billion years ago – only 500 million years after the Big Bang. Studying these galaxies helps us to determine the properties of galaxies in the early universe, and to understand how these galaxies evolve into the galaxies we see in the nearby universe today.
My parents took me on a trip to the Parkes telescope when I was in year 2 or year 3 of primary school, and I think after that I was determined to be an astronomer so that I could use the telescope! I wore out most of the science picture books that my parents bought me, and was later lucky enough to have excellent science teachers in high school that challenged me.
One of the highlights of my MSc in Physics was the opportunity to travel to Italy for a summer school at the Vatican Observatory. I stayed just outside of Rome for a month, and got to attend lectures by some of the top astrophysicists in the world. I also got to observe on the 10m Keck telescope in Hawaii for my masters research, which was very exciting.
The University of Melbourne has been a really good place for me - I definitely found my undergraduate and masters studies challenging but very rewarding. My research group is extremely supportive, and I feel like I have been encouraged to take all of the opportunities that have come my way. Between beginning my undergraduate degree and now, I have become much more comfortable and confident at giving talks and meeting new people - this is a big part of doing science, since it's such a collaborative field.
I enjoy handcrafts such as sewing and knitting. I also enjoy photography, especially working with analogue film. My dream career is to be an astrophysicist, studying the stars and galaxies in the very early Universe.
Read more about Stephanie’s research here.
In 2015 I received the Dr Alan Kenneth Head Travelling Scholarship, which allowed me to visit The Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College, London. They are one of the few collaborations proposing to directly detect evidence of new physics beyond the Standard Model (or at least place bounds on existing models). Their results rely on the contextual interpretation of accurate molecular calculations to search for the electric dipole moment of the electron. Such calculations are the primary goal of my PhD project, and it is of vital importance that they reflect the laboratory conditions of the molecule as well as possible. Specifically, the objective of my trip was to gain a more intimate understanding of the apparatus involved, and to improve the dialogue between theoretical and experimental efforts.
The discussions and talks given by group members such as Prof. Ed Hinds, Prof. Ben Sauer and PhD student Isabel Rabey have provided valuable insight into the details of the experiment. They have outlined the need for an updated (multi-configurational) molecular calculation to account for the strong coupling of the YbF molecule’s low-lying ro-vibrational excited states with its (ideally-prepared) ground state.
W. Tyler Mehler
W. Tyler Mehler is investigating the suitability of using fish embryos to assess the toxicity of aquatic environments.
Having grown up in the rural areas of Illinois in the United States, I have always been fond of the outdoors and the environment. It was pretty early on that I realised I wanted to work in this setting. Additionally, I became an avid fisherman at a young age (although never a good one) and liked to find and/or catch the different organisms that were associated with each ecosystem, whether it be invertebrates, frogs, and or fish. It wasn't until college that I realised that I could make a profession out of my interests in the field of aquatic toxicology, to study how we as a society can impact these ecosystems.
In the past my research has utilised species that have been worked in the past (two invertebrate species), but being awarded the Jasper Loftus-Hill Award will allow me to investigate a very promising vertebrate species which not has been worked with in this capacity; fish embryos. The use of native fish embryos in Toxicity Identification Values would be beneficial for many reasons including: higher degree sensitivity, quicker results, use of a vertebrate species, and more appeal to the public.
Recently, I went to China to visit with three institutions to discuss my research as well as possible collaborations. It was a great experience, one in which I learned not only about my field of science, but also about culture and work/life balance. I believe this trip benefited me not only professionally, but also personally.
From my experience, the student/professor relationship can be one that is not as much supervisory (unless it needs to be), but rather one where you work together as colleagues. I think is very valuable to the student and encourages them to be more forward without as much pressure.
W. Tyler received the The Jasper Loftus-Hills Award.
I am a Physics PhD student at The University of Melbourne, mainly focusing on gravitational wave data analysis for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project. This is an international experiment that is developing tools to detect gravitational waves. Funded by the Dr Alan Kenneth Head Travelling Scholarship, between January and July 2016 I spent 6 month visiting LIGO sites, labs and universities located in the United States and Italy. The first 3.5 months were part of the LIGO Visitors Program, which is operated by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. The aim of this program is to describe techniques associated with the field of interferometric gravitational wave detection, and enhance communication between visitors and the global LIGO teams. For the remaining part I visited the University of Michigan and the University of Rome - La Sapienza; collaborating with the groups there for research work on LIGO data analysis.
During my trip I was able to contribute to flagging the continuous wave hardware injections during the first observational run of Advanced LIGO, produce papers and presentations on the continuous gravitational wave searches and worked with data analysis groups to improve our search and application methods.
In March 2016 I was able to attend an LVC meeting (in Pasadena, US), which was the first LVC conference since the detection of gravitational waves, and brought together important and instructive presentations and discussions. The Gravitational Wave Advanced Detector Workshop (GWADW) in Elba, Italy, also helped me establish the knowledge about instruments and the next generation of detectors, which will enhance my research on gravitational waves.
Some of my research results have been published or written up in papers, and some will also be published as part of the LIGO collaboration papers. During the visit and I have a series of presentations to showcase the contribution of data analysis group in the University of Melbourne toward the international LIGO collaboration, explaining the methods developed by the Melbourne group and the astrophysical search results achieved. I have also taken part in some outreaching activities like teaching elementary school students gravitational waves, which is also interesting and valuable experience.
My research seeks to extend our knowledge in the field of metamorphic geology – the study of rocks formed deep in mountain belts – in light of new methods for studying these rocks and advances in understanding metamorphic processes. The aim of the work funded by the John and Allan Gilmour Scholarship was to discover the processes involved in the formation and evolution of rocks collected from Madagascar. These rocks are important in the study of earth processes as they were found to have formed in the final collision of tectonic plates forming the super continent Gondwana around 520 million years ago. Globally, we can piece together areas of rocks formed in similar conditions and time periods to discover past configurations of continents.
After collecting 72 rock samples from the remote areas of southern Madagascar, these were shipped to Germany for analysis at The Johanes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Notable findings include: literally finding the right rocks in the field and identifying high-temperature mineral assemblages including the key assemblage sapphirine + quartz; developing a new way to model domainal rocks when the traditional method did not work and a new temperature and pressure constraint on the area which is lower than previously estimated. I presented my findings at the conference “Granulites and Granulites” in Windhoek, Namibia in August 2015.
I have caught the fieldwork bug, so I would like to explore many more field areas as a postdoctoral researcher. I also enjoy the teaching opportunities I have had within my department, and would like to develop these further and one day lead my own students into the field. A career in Earth Sciences has the potential to be incredibly diverse, and I am excited and motivated for the future.
Catherine has received the John and Allan Gilmour Research Award and The Professor Kernot Research Scholarship (Earth Sciences) with the J.H. Harvey Award.
- John Allen
In a warmer world with increasing amounts of thermodynamic energy, more water in the atmosphere and changes in the jet streams, you get greater instability and more frequent thunderstorms.PhD specialising in severe thunderstorms
- Patrina Dumaru
My thesis assessed the effectiveness of a community based adaptation (CBA) project in enhancing the capacity of three indigenous Fijian villages to adapt to climate change.MSc - Development
PhD specialising in Geography
- Nicole Darman
I am in charge of building a community of mathematics teachers who want to change the way maths is taught in schools.MSc - Physics
I have always been inquisitive and science became my “fun” subject in high school. A degree in Science was just the next step as I followed my interests.
In my PhD I was focusing on the genetics of the malaria parasite to help understand the biology and ultimately find novel drug targets. The dynamic nature of my research kept me engaged and motivated. The challenges I faced during my PhD made me realise what I am capable of overcoming and achieving. I enjoyed the independence of my studies, but also knowing that someone was always there to help when I needed it!
The Megan Klemm Postgraduate Award gave me the financial support required to attend an overseas conference and visit labs in the US, Germany and the Netherlands. These experiences were important steps in achieving my PhD goals and for my future career opportunities.
Claire received The Megan Klemm Postgraduate Research Award.
Yu-Chen investigated micro-organisms in coastal soil systems abundant in Australia; aiming to use them to reduce the soil acidity as a remediation strategy.
In my childhood, my parents both had to work during the summer and winter vacations. They would put me in the National Museum of Natural Science on their way to work and pick me up when they finished the work. These experiences inspired me to choose science as my study area.
When I initially joined John Moreau’s Geomicrobiology Lab, I only had a general idea of what I would like to find out about the rules that regulate microorganisms and their environments. Coastal acid sulfate soil systems offer a valuable setting for this research. A few days after I had told my supervisor I would start the project, he put a pop-up mosquito net on my desk and told me: “You will need this on your field trip”. Then he reminded me with a smile: “Be careful around the crocodiles.”
Microorganisms have been proven to change the pH values from a very acidic to a neutral condition within a few years of tidal inundation treatment. However, limited knowledge about microorganisms in coastal acid sulfate soil systems hinders us from evaluating a long-term bioremediation efficacy in tidally inundated coastal acid sulfate soil systems. If we could resolve the relationships between microorganisms and environments in coastal acid sulfate soil systems, a potential land management in the future would be possible.
Considering the large area that coastal acid sulfate soils occupy in the world (around 12-13 million hectare globally), and the huge economic loss they cause (10 billion legacy in Australia, which occupies 17% of global acid sulfate soils), we believe more research on building a complete biogeochemical model of coastal acid sulfate soil systems will be a worthy investment.
To find out more about Yu-Chen’s PhD, see her research poster - which was awarded 3rd place in the 2015 American Geophysical Union (AGU) student virtual poster competition - here.
I've been motivated to pursue chemistry ever since Year 10 at school; unlocking the secrets of the physical world and using them for creative applications was just as alluring to me then as it is now.
The main highlight of my studies was publishing a detailed review paper finally explaining a reaction which has been widely used yet misunderstood for over 100 years! I also developed an automatic phosphate monitoring system which can run for weeks to months at a time, and runs on alcohol and UV light.
My dream is to be a research and development scientist in an organisation which develops innovative products of global significance, such as those related to energy, modernisation of industrial processes, and environmental waste cleanup.
Doing research requires that you love what you do, as the motivation has to come from yourself, and not your supervisor. It's an exciting way to indulge your curiosity, particularly if you love problem-solving and understanding what truly makes things work, and it's up to you as a communicator to explain to people why your work is valuable and what can be gained from it.
Edward received The Young Scientist Research Prize.
I’m a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University in New York, having completed my PhD on the impacts of climate change on severe thunderstorms in Australia. I chase storms because when I visualise things, I can see the mathematics in the atmosphere. I’ve been pretty close to tornadoes and I can see the processes going on: the physics of severe thunderstorms.
Until now, people haven’t really understood the likelihood of a severe thunderstorm in Australia and in a warmer world that changes quite a bit. My research proved that the conditions favourable to severe thunderstorms in Australia were remarkably similar to those in America, where more research has been carried out. In fact, conditions are similar worldwide.
In a warmer world with increasing amounts of thermodynamic energy, more water in the atmosphere and changes in the jet streams, you get greater instability and more frequent thunderstorms. If we know storm environments are similar worldwide, we can use modelling in places where there is no — or limited — data like South Africa, China and South America.
Quotes are taken from The Citizen’s MyPhd series. See the rest of the article here.
Long-term biological monitoring data are becoming increasingly available to inform conservation efforts internationally. These data are rich sources of scientific evidence that offer insights into the natural variability of ecosystems and species through time, as well revealing information about the effectiveness of conservation efforts. However, there are many occasions where long-term monitoring data, like other forms of scientific evidence, have been of little use to conservation. Scientists have been criticised for failing to collect long-term monitoring data that is relevant to conservation management, and on the other hand conservation managers have been criticised for not using available scientific data to inform their management decisions.
Through my PhD research I explored barriers to the use of long-term monitoring data in conservation management, and developed a series of practical solutions to improve the use of scientific evidence in conservation management. My research targeted the science–management interface, acknowledging that both scientists and managers play vital roles in the creation and use of scientific evidence in conservation management. Marine protected area (MPA) management was the focus of my research, as there are now many long-term monitoring programs associated with MPAs around the globe available to inform MPA management.
Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Researcher & NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science in the University of Oxford. Through this position I am facilitating the transfer of biodiversity research to address key conceptual and operational challenges associated with corporate biodiversity strategies.
“[Conservation] sounds like a job you want when you’re four years old, not a job you actually have as an adult.” That’s how someone responded when I told them what I do for a living. Of course, I was in no way offended. She was dead right. Conservation biology is exactly what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’. I used to rescue wildlife from roads. I used to go through my grandfather’s wildlife magazines and write lists of all the threatened species then make ‘fact sheets’ for how to save them. I now do both of these things, every day.
My PhD research was to assess the benefit of building road-crossing structures to improve the connectivity of tree-based mammal populations. My project was focused on squirrel gliders along the Hume Highway and how the five newly built crossing bridges could benefit their habitat connectivity. Squirrel gliders are an endangered species who cannot travel further than 40 metres.
I chose conservation biology because I don’t think that human actions should lead to the whole-sale destruction of the environment. I have been upset by extinction since I learned what it was. I love nature – not because of what it gives us, just because. I believe that human-caused biodiversity loss is unnecessary and unacceptable. I believe we can do better. And I believe science can help us do that.
Read more about Kylie’s work here.
So much has been said about the threats of climate change to the Pacific Islands and there has been a significant growth in aid funding directed towards adaptation projects in the region. When commencing my PhD I was curious to know how exactly these projects enhanced community adaptability to climate change, particularly for indigenous villages in my home country of Fiji.
My thesis assessed the effectiveness of a community based adaptation (CBA) project in enhancing the capacity of three indigenous Fijian villages to adapt to climate change. The research helped to understand how adaptation projects can be better designed and implemented to respond to local needs and values while strengthening the adaptive capacity of local social-cultural systems. The study demonstrated that what differentiates CBA from other adaptation approaches is that it purposefully seeks to produce the kind of outcomes that enable local actors to continuously mobilize collective action, inclusive decision- making and iterative learning towards immediate and long-term climate change adaptation goals.
The highlights were when I was awarded a grant from the UNDP Asia-Pacific Human Development Academic Fellowship, got a paper published in a good journal and when I submitted my thesis. Of course, looking back, there are things I would have done differently but I feel like I did my best with the support, resources and time available to me and I’m satisfied with the effort I put in.
I am now the Team Leader of the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EUGCCA) Project with the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) at the University of the South Pacific (USP). The project aims to strengthen the capacity of 15 Pacific countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change, through formal and informal training, practical community focused adaptation projects, and applied research. I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate job and was so excited when I got the job offer!
I have always been interested in maths and physics, especially what goes on in space. This is what led me to pursue a Masters in Physics and focus my research on the detection of gravitational waves. I really enjoyed how well-rounded my experience was. Not only did I get to study in a field that excites me, but I also got to experience so much more in terms of social activities, teaching, outreach and event planning which has helped me land my dream job!
Studying at the University of Melbourne was a huge achievement for me. People from my home town aren't known for going off to university to study high level topics like astrophysics, so it was nice to be with like-minded people who were also approachable and fun. I also felt like I was part of a community of people that I can still call upon to this day for advice, employment opportunities or just to catch up.
I am currently the Director of Engagement at a maths education company called Maths Pathway. I am in charge of building a community of mathematics teachers who want to change the way maths is taught in schools. As part of this, I schedule and organise all events, run the social media campaigns, partake in marketing projects and help structure the administration within the company.