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.

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.