Graduate: Claire Charlton
Degree: Marine Biology (Honours)
Working as: Marine Consultant
Claire Charlton is a classic example of applying research in a way that benefits both industry and the environment.
As a marine consultant with a background in marine biology, she is currently working up and down the Western Australian coastline, monitoring and mitigating the environment impacts of the oil and gas sector.
Working in a marine team for a global environmental consultancy, ‘Environmental Resource Management”, she aims to reduce the environment impact of some large-scale developments. She is taking her interests in marine biology and underwater acoustics and applying that to real-life activities to make a real difference to the environment.
Claire started her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at Flinders before finishing it at James Cook University in Queensland – an experience that gave her the best of both worlds. She came back to Flinders to complete her Honours – looking at underwater acoustics and the impacts of anthropogenic noise on the resident dolphins in the Port River – a highly industrial area.
What advice would she pass onto prospective students?
“One of the problems with marine biology is that people think it’s really hard to get jobs, but it’s like anything – if you set out to achieve something, you can do it. From Day 1 at University, I’d advise that you look for jobs and get your head around what you could do when you are finished. There are lots of opportunities available. No matter what career path you take,, it will be what you make it. So be self-motivated, don’t be shy and visit the companies that you want to work for to push yourself in the right direction.”
Graduate: Fumba Donzo
Degree: Science (Earth Science & Chemistry)
Working as: Geologist
Fumba Donzo’s life has always been full of challenges.
From the age of three, when his family fled the Liberian Civil War through to tackling education with minimal English skills, he has always met them head on.
Fumba came to Adelaide after a number of years in a refugee camp. His next challenge was to complete SACE with limited knowledge of English, something he did with support of friends and family. He discovered a love for science, which became a passion.
Fumba came to Flinders University initially do a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry and Maths. After discussions with the counsellors on campus, he moved to earth sciences, where he could pursue an area of budding interest – hydrology – and a dream to assist communities back in Liberia without access to clean water.
Flinders University became an environment which he loved. Spending most days studying hard in the library, he learned study skills to become an independent learner.
He completed his Honours in Hydrology, presenting research on in-situ leaching solution mining where an acid solution is injected into the ground to recover minerals such as uranium.
After working in Darwin, Fumba returned to Adelaide and accepted a place on the Geoscientist Assistance Program through the South Australian Chamber of Mines & Energy. The program provides him with the chance at a 12-month placement with a mining company in South Australia. Fumba is now a geologist for Minotaur Exploration, dividing his time between the far reaches of South Australia and the Minotaur headquarters in Adelaide.
Based on the many challenges he has faced, what advice does Fumba have for prospective University students?
“University can be like an ocean that you can swim in. Explore what is there for you. But importantly, do it properly and go it right,” he said.
“You can sit at home at listen to lectures but you need to be at uni to immerse yourself in it. Go to the library, do the study, but make the most of it.”
Graduate: Matthew Endacott
Degree: Environmental Management
Working as: Bush for Life Field Officer
Overseas travel opened Matthew Endacott’s eyes to the damage that could be done to the environment through human impact… so he decided to do something about it.
Returning to Australia from the UK, Matthew studied Environmental Management at Flinders and is now heading up a team of 80 volunteers in Bush Regeneration in the Mitcham Hills.
Matthew also helps run Bush Action Teams (BAT), which involve up to 700 volunteers caring for environmental sites in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Murray Darling Basin, Yorke Peninsula & Mid North . He supervises the bush regeneration process, educating volunteers in how to tackle and manage invasive weed fronts and protect native flora using techniques that aim to bring minimal disruption to the environment.
But apart from the environmental knowledge Matthew learned at Flinders, it was the other skills in people management, presentation and reporting that have significantly helped him. Matthew started his degree at 28 and coming to University as a mature age student meant he needed to access the learning centre for tips and assistance.
What has Matthew learned that current Flinders students could benefit from?
“Do as much volunteering as possible while you’re doing your degree and get out into the field as much as you can,” Matthew said.
“Volunteering is not just about getting your hands dirty, it’s about showing you’ve got initiative. It looks great on your resume too. It was drummed into us and those of us who did volunteer at Uni have now got jobs. It’s a juggle, but it’s a necessary part of the process.”
Graduate: Dr Melissa Gregory
Degree: Biotechnology (Honours) and PhD
Working as: Researcher
Melissa’s research is not only looking to improve life for patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, it may also help anyone who regularly takes omega-3 supplements.
Melissa is working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. She is using molecular techniques to clone and characterise the enzymes involved in converting the fatty acids found in vegetable oils to the long chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil. Her work may help to develop alternative omega-3 food sources and protect fish stocks.
Finishing Honours in 2005, Melissa found research wasn’t what she expected. Her research project allowed her the freedom to choose which direction the project should go.
Her PhD project continued in the same field, a crossover between molecular biology and aquaculture. Her project focussed on the southern bluefin tuna industry in Port Lincoln and optimizing omega-3 levels.
As part of her work, Melissa has had the opportunity to attend several conferences in Australia and overseas. She has also published work in international journals.
What advice would Melissa have for students at Flinders?
“I didn’t realize that there is a lot of flexibility at university. At school, you make decisions which appear big. It feels like that’s it, you can’t change. But there is a lot more flexibility and people employed by the university to help you out, sorting out topics and courses. The change of pace is a bit different, going from school to university but it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things!”
Graduate: David Hobbs
Degree: Science - Physics (Honours), Biomedical Engineering, currently enrolled in Biomedical Engineering PhD
Working as: Lecturer and Biomedical Engineer
David Hobbs’ career has taken him full circle from Flinders University and back – and he has helped a lot of children along the way.
As someone working in rehabilitation engineering, he has helped children with cerebral palsy for years – and now his PhD is investigating the use of haptic computer gaming to help train sensory function in their hands.
David’s pathway to his current career has been long and winding – but he has also given back at every stage of the journey. He graduated with a physics degree from Flinders but wanted to work in an area with more of a medical or health focus or even an engineering challenge. Biomedical engineering was the perfect fit.
David’s passion for rehabilitation engineering has taken him to south-east Asia with Engineers Without Borders (a non–profit organisation who assist with engineering projects in developing countries), working on projects in schools in Cambodia. The education project he co-established – building the capacity of teachers to better teach mathematics and biomechanics – is still running and is now self-sufficient.
He has also completed both a Fulbright Scholarship and Churchill Fellowship, looking at how to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy. David is also a regular speaker in schools, inspiring young people on careers in rehabilitation engineering.
Now he’s back at Flinders as an academic, completing a PhD investigating the training of sensory function in the hands of children with cerebral palsy using computer games. And he believes he’s a better academic for his pathway through industry and study.
What advice would he have for students?
“Get some work experience. Think about what you want to do and then get some work experience in that area – that will help confirm what you want to do. Be sure to develop your ‘soft’ skills as they are just as important as your ‘hard’ academic skills. Show you have initiative, leadership and other qualities that will help you advance your career.”
Graduate: Jody O'Connor
Degree: Biodiversity & Conservation
Working as: Evolutionary Biologist
For Jody O’Connor, the passion that has established her as an emerging world authority on Darwin’s finches was sparked by her time at Flinders.
Jody had always had an interest in biology – thanks to her biology teacher parents – but one of her lecturers inspired her to save an endangered bird species.
Following her undergraduate, honours and PhD studies at Flinders, Jody has spent time at the Galapagos Islands, studying the Darwin’s Medium Tree Finch and conducting the first nesting studies and population studies ever done on the bird. As a result of her research, the Finch has been upgraded on the World Conservation Red List from vulnerable to critically endangered. She also developed a within-nest camera system that is now driving new research in biological control in the United States are now basing their experiments on this new research.
She has also been to Borneo to help manage a zoo made up of confiscated wild animals. One of her more important roles was to introduce an educational program to make the conservation message very prominent in south-east Asia.
Her advice for students?
“Think of the best job in the world and aim for that. Do something you really want to do – if you’re passionate about something you’re going to be one of those people who’s really good at it and driven towards being the best you can be. We have people here who are contributing to conserving the environment in so many ways. The study in this area is more than just getting a job – it is in doing something that you can be proud of.”
Graduate: Farshad Raisi
Degree: Computer Science
Working as: IT Systems Co-ordinator
Farshad Raisi is adaptable - he’s needed to be to succeed first at University and now in a career in Defence.
Coming to Australia from Iran nearly ten years ago, with no English language background, was hard but he adapted quickly and, with the support of both school and University teachers is now working in Canberra providing infrastructure and IT systems support for the navy, army and air force.
Farshad completed a Bachelor of Science with an extended major in Computer Science. He then took up an APS ICT cadetship which was introduced by a lecturer in one of his classes.
Farshad is now moving into project management as he looks at doing a Masters. The spark for project management, however, came from a lecturer at Flinders.
“Denise had a big impact on me. She was one of the main reasons that I enjoyed project management and now I’m working in it. She was very inspiring to me.”
What advice does Farshad have for students who may have English as a second language?
“Try to communicate as much as possible and try to seek help. Lecturers and supervisors love questions and they love people to seek their advice. In my experience, they aren’t too busy and do want to answer your questions. I didn’t want the lecturers and supervisors to spend too much time with me but whenever I approached them they were quite supportive. They love to see you show initiative and want to see you trying to get the highest marks. There are also other resources that are available to you and they can really help you get the best out of yourself.”