- Amelia-Grace Boxshall
My advice would be that discovering you’ve changed your mind over a long-held dream career is a blessing, not a failure.
- 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.
- 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.
Using the MSc to shift careers, Peter is studying an MSc (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.
Find out more about the Master of Biotechnology Industry Project here.
Christopher is specialising in bushfire management in his Master of Forest Ecosystem Sciences.
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.
Innes is specialising in theoretical particle physics during her MSc (Physics).
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 during his Master of Environment.
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.
Jeremy is specialising in Tectonogeochemistry during his MSc (Earth Sciences).
I love exploring the natural world and I have always been curious about how things come about. Studying geology has allowed me to learn so many things about the Earth and its history. I have also met so many like-minded people, travelled to unique places, gained heaps of knowledge, and made lifelong friendships.
My dream career would definitely involve travelling to and exploring new places. I have been lucky enough to see some of the finest spectacles Earth has to offer, leading me to appreciate the outdoors on a whole new level. I’d love to research large scale tectonic processes in different places around the world.
The highlight of my studies has been travelling to Timor-Leste for my Masters research. I spent six weeks in very remote areas of the island in order to map its geology and collect samples for further analysis. It was an amazing experience to explore places that no one may have been to before and to discover new things previously unseen.
My advice would be to try not to look too far ahead into the future. Have fun with your course, try some different subjects and meet new people. You might find you have a hidden passion for something. Something I didn’t expect to learn is how to cut a rock down to 30 microns thick in order to look at it under a microscope. When I first learned about the process, it seemed completely surreal to me, but now it is just standard practice.
Amelia-Grace is specialising in systematic mycology during her MSc (BioSciences).
I chose to study here because I initially wanted to be a vet and the University of Melbourne was the only university in the state to offer veterinary studies. However, as time went on I discovered botany- and fell in love. I chose to stay here for my Masters because I felt so comfortable in the environment with all my fellow botanists. I was also fortunate enough to stumble across a wonderful supervisor and project.
I've always loved the natural world, gardening and generally immersing myself in nature. Discovering botany (mostly by luck) was a revelation. I truly enjoy every moment spent learning about the evolution of plants and observing every aspect of them. My dream career would be to unite my fascination with mycology and botany, with fieldwork and opportunities to share my love of science with people from every walk of life. I'm not sure if that job exists, but I'd love to find it!
My advice would be that discovering you’ve changed your mind over a long-held dream career is a blessing, not a failure. Almost everyone I know has a story about how chance helped them into an unexpected but exciting career. I would suggest that anyone considering a Master of Science (BioSciences) try an internship during their undergraduate degree. Internships provide so many opportunities- a taste of a career in an interesting field, meeting a possible supervisor, learning how to put yourself out there, and learning more about yourself.
Some highlights of my studies include:
- Studying Communication for Research Scientists this semester has been an incredible education, but also amazingly fun. I've had a wonderful time learning how to engage the public and general scientists in research- specifically my own. I've learnt so many new techniques and tricks for writing, public speaking and communicating in general. I've even had the opportunity to practice my new communication skills by speaking to volunteers at a local native nursery.
- Last year, I undertook the Science and Technology Internship subject at the Royal Botanic Gardens where I assisted Dr Teresa Lebel and Dr Elizabeth James with their research. I gained experience with the trials and tribulations of working in a molecular lab and fell head over heels in love with the scientific-yet-social atmosphere at the RBG. The only way I could convince myself to leave on my last day was to promise myself that one day I'd return there to work. It was during this internship that I was converted to the world of fungi - and where I met my now supervisor (Dr Lebel). Between the two of us, we hatched a plan for my research project.
- Field Botany was an intensive undergraduate subject based at Falls Creek in January 2015 where myself and other plant-loving students immersed ourselves in non-stop botanising. By day, we hiked around hills, valleys, bogs and plateaus, somehow absorbing the names of hundreds of indigenous and introduced plant species, mapping different vegetation types and conducting mini research projects. By night, we stayed up late identifying plant specimens collected throughout the day, outlining possible vegetation boundaries on aerial photographs and perfecting our puns. That was the second botany subject I'd ever done and it truly cemented my appreciation of field work, plants and my fellow botanists.
Lachlan is specialising in plant systematics, aerobiology and ecogenomics during his MSc (BioSciences).
In undergrad I was fascinated by the intricacy and beauty of nature, particularly in its biology. After taking a few subjects through the botany department as science electives I was inspired to look deeper into the wide world of plants, in particular the way they influence human health.
After my great experience in undergrad I couldn't help but come back and undertake postgraduate study. I was also fortunate enough to find a supervisor who was excited to take me on as a Masters student and has tailored a project that suited me perfectly. I am now studying botany to better understand the nature and composition of airborne pollen and how it affects Melbournians affected by hay fever.
The beauty of the Master of Science (BioSciences) is that you are able to choose a project that interests you, which can incorporate aspects from botany, zoology and genetics. It also fosters a collegial academic environment in which you can share your research with others interested in your field. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the research component thus far, I have more so enjoyed my coursework subjects, which have inspired me to communicate science to a broad audience through social media and demonstrating in first year biology classes. The coursework subjects are catered to equip you for further research or employment.
I undertook an 8-week internship at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, where I studied fungal systematics under Dr Teresa Lebel. Through this project I was able to use genetics to work out species boundaries in a genus of mushroom, and in the process discovered (and named) a few new species. Through this project I gained valuable laboratory and presentation skills. It also helped me to be very sure that I want to pursue a career in academia and science.
Throughout both undergrad and postgrad I have had the opportunity to explore in great depth the world of biology. My time here as not only meant a lot to me academically, but I have made friendships that will be with me forever.
Find out more about internship opportunities here.