- 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.
- 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.
- Nicole Darman
I am in charge of building a community of mathematics teachers who want to change the way maths is taught in schools.
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 Research 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.
My master's research project (2012-2013) allowed me to steer my own project and dedicate my energies towards a biological question that, to that point, had no answer. I spent long, sometimes arduous days mist-netting for superb fairy-wrens at Serendip Sanctuary (near Lara, Victoria), but no matter how hard the work it was always preferable to sitting behind a desk. Being at the University of Melbourne surrounded me with researchers who share my enthusiasm for zoology, and were willing to support me during my research—whether with knowledge or friendship.
It was probably always a given that I would study birds. I grew up on an emu farm (in the 1990s, when emu farming was the next big thing). My first David Attenborough nature series was 'The Life of Birds', which enthralled me with the world's stunning birdlife diversity.
I enjoy doing research, but I also love telling people about it. My dream career would probably be some combination of ecologist and science communicator: I think it's crucial that scientists be able to engage with the public, to influence policy and inspire the next generation of Attenboroughs.
If I were a prospective student, I would start chatting with potential supervisors as soon as possible. Most are very approachable, and the more enthusiastic you are the more likely you'll be offered a project. You may feel pressure to jump into any old project, but it's definitely worth waiting for a research topic that you find genuinely interesting: two years is a long time to dedicate to anything. Research isn't for everybody, but if you find a project that you're passionate about then it becomes very rewarding.
Andrew was runner-up in the national final of British Council Australia’s FameLab 2017, for communicating his PhD research at Deakin University. See here for more information about his presentation.
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 process would be possible in the future.
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.
Coming from a Commerce and Economics background, the diversity in the Masters of Environment was exactly what I needed to form an extremely well-rounded knowledge base for a future career. I focused on relating environment and sustainability to business, particularly in the social enterprise area.
I was able to take subjects in architecture, science, horticulture and agriculture among others, all of which collectively helped me form the right mindset to go into the world and create change holistically. I now work full time in the innovation lab at the City of Melbourne where I look at new, innovative ways to solve not only environmental but all sorts of problems at the local government level.
Jessie specialised in Discrete Mathematics and Operations Research during her Mathematics and Statistics major.
I fell in love with the mathematics course early on in my degree and it inspired me to go in that direction. The highlight of my studies would be my Techniques in Operations Research subject. It was easily my most satisfying and fulfilling subject, and due to the differing types of assessments we did. When a guest speaker - Christina Burt - came in to talk about mathematical applications to real world scenarios in the mining industry, I realised that this was my passion and it led me to the career path that I've started now.
I spent the 100 hours of my science internship learning about how Coles uses different programs and forecasting techniques to optimise the flow of product from Supplier to DC (Warehouse) to Store, to try and ensure that there is the perfect amount of stock in store at all times. It was fascinating, and really eye opening to the complexity of supermarkets that you don't ever think about when grocery shopping and I loved my time there. Whilst I was there, one of the team members within my supervisor's team moved departments and a position became available. I was encouraged by my supervisor and his manager to apply for the role. Though I was extremely under-qualified - they were asking for four years industry experience in Supply Chain and with the particular programs at a minimum - but they thought it would be wonderful interview experience for me at the very least.
I did make it through to the interview stage! It was difficult preparing for exams and a big interview at the same time, but I went into the interview very relaxed because in my mind, I knew that it was impossible for me to get the job. But it went really really well, and two days before the final exam of my degree, I received a call from Coles to say that they'd love to offer me a full-time permanent role in the team immediately after I finished my degree. So now, I work as a full time Systems Analyst in the Supply Chain Operations department for Coles!
The Bachelor of Science gave me a lot of room 'to move' and allowed me to explore different majors - mathematics and engineering - before specialising without having to extend my course by too much. I also got to enjoy learning about the Arts - music and the film industry in particular - by doing breadth subjects. Studying at Melbourne has given me a really well-rounded education and I am so lucky and grateful to have been able to study there. I am so grateful that the Science Internship subject gave me the opportunity to have an internship during my degree, because certainly if I hadn't, I wouldn't have walked straight into a job after uni!
Scott Gigante is a Bachelor of Science graduate. He majored in Pure Mathematics and also studied Chinese, as part of a Concurrent Diploma in Languages. In the second last year of his degree he travelled to China on exchange, as part of the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
“The New Colombo Plan Scholarship was arguably the most incredible part of my degree. I learned all sorts of things outside of the curriculum. I learnt how to engage in a workforce that was not only in an area that I hadn’t worked before, but also a culture I didn’t know. I met students from other countries studying similar things to me and local students studying different things to me. This tight knit community at the university gave me an excellent feeling of community spirit. It was an amazing experience.”
Find out more about Scott’s story in this video.