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.
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.
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 received a Howitt Natural History Scholarship in 2012 and the F.H. Drummond Prize in 2013.