Studying at UNSW Science has led to interesting and rewarding careers across the globe for our alumni and this is something we are proud of. Our alumni have accomplished amazing things, from medical breakthroughs to environmental sustainability, from aviation management to data security - our alumni are making their mark in their communities and industries.
I am an elected councillor for Liverpool City Council and a registered Occupational Therapist. I am currently the Community Engagement Officer for headspace Campbelltown, where I work to build awareness of and reduce stigma around mental health and well-being so that young people can access the help they need.
I was raised in Liverpool after migrating to the area with my family as a young girl. I am proud to be one of only 11 women elected to Council in Liverpool's 144-year history, and one of the youngest. I was named one of Australia’s rising political stars by Marie Claire, and twice nominated as a candidate for NSW Parliament before I turned 30. Recently, I was named one of the 40 under 40 most influential Asian Australian leaders by the Asian Australian Leadership Alliance.
I always try and ask myself “why not?”. Asking myself ‘why?’ reminds me of my purpose but asking ‘why not?’ helps ensure what I’m doing is aligned to my values and beliefs. It helps me see opportunities through a different perspective and do things I find challenging or uncomfortable.
‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ with Ed Milliband and Geoff Lloyd. It’s an optimistic podcast about ideas, and trying to solve some of the biggest challenges that face us.
My go to stressbusting music is either kpop or Desi pop!
Cooking more often! It’s made me so much more mindful of the relationship between how and what I’m eating and my moods.
My time at UNSW helped lay the foundation of who I am today. It taught me so much about myself, helped me discover my passions and uncover skills I never expected. Without my time at UNSW, I would not live the life I do now.
I have amazing friends and family who remind me that work is one part of my life. I also like to unleash my curiosity and learn about random things to remind me of how big and complex and extraordinary the world is.
One year I was asked to give the student experience perspective for incoming UNSW Science students during O-Week. I was paired with Prof Julian Cox for the presentation and I just LOVED the fact that he turned up in Halloween themed pants and just made everyone laugh so much! It gave me such an appreciation for the lengths that academics go to for a better uni experience.
Try – and fail – as much as you can! We can often learn more about ourselves and what we want when things don’t go the way we expect.
Science gives you such a valuable framework to approach finding solutions to problems. It’s taught me to gather evidence and come to a conclusion based on that evidence. I feel like this is a much more constructive way of problem-solving and tackling the challenges our community faces.
I knew academia was not for me and after spending 4 years experimenting with chemicals in a laboratory, I needed a change of scenery. It was in my final year of demonstrating chemistry classes, I discovered something I didn’t know I enjoyed - making science exciting! Before I knew it, I’d run away to join the Questacon Science Circus. The idea of making science accessible and presenting science shows to regional and remote communities across Australia for a Masters was a revelation.
In my current line of work, I design and deliver workshops centered around the ‘Innovation Cycle’ (which is to think, make, try and refine) to schools and communities across Australia. I have been given the chance to inspire future generations of Australians to pursue science.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Less scrolling, more living. I started tinkering and indoor rock climbing. There is so much to learn and so much to discover.
Through my time at UNSW, I learned self-awareness, resilience, and compassion. To name a few exciting experiences, I volunteered in Nepal, interned in Malaysia, played at the Australian Quidditch Championships and demonstrated chemistry laboratory classes. These experiences have shaped me to challenge myself at whatever I do.
Always ask for feedback. In whatever line of work, we are always finding ways to improve. Don’t forget to look back on those failures and use them as opportunities for growth.
Enjoying a Portuguese sandwich at the Quad food court with my friends.
The world is your oyster. Anything is possible if you accept you have control. It is up to you to demonstrate what you want to do.
From designing vaccines to reduce the risk of certain illnesses to the double rainbow that is formed when sunlight is reflected twice within a raindrop, science is everywhere. Understanding science drives positive changes and together we can discover how our world works to create a better future for all.
I currently work as a Senior Policy Officer at Safe Work Australia in the area of occupational lung diseases. I am a passionate advocate for people with disability and promoting equality, access and inclusion in all aspects of Australian society. I serve on a number of boards and committees in the areas of sport and disability advocacy. I am a four-time Paralympian in the sport of swimming, and have a strong passion for the importance of sport participation in optimising health, wellbeing and social inclusion. I love keeping active and enjoy running, hiking and snow skiing.
Recently I have started to develop a routine of practicing self-reflection. It is really valuable for developing self-awareness and to reflect and learn from the diverse perspectives and experiences of our community.
My experience at UNSW offered many unique experiences and has helped me to develop confidence to become involved in leadership roles within disability advocacy and sport sectors. I am forever grateful for the support I received from my lecturers and fellow students during my studies, and also through the UNSW Elite Athlete Program.
I had so many wonderful experiences both academically and through extracurricular activities. One of my most memorable experiences has to be my time on Student Representative Council as Student with Disabilities Officer. I truly loved supporting, connecting and collaborating with the UNSW student community in this role and I loved every second.
I was drawn to the breadth of disciplines and specialisations offered through a Bachelor of Science, through which I could discover my own areas of interest. Be open minded about your potential career path and know that it doesn’t need to go in only one trajectory. Always be curious and enjoy the process of exploration!
Science, in all its disciplines, branches and partnerships, provides us with opportunity for exploration, evolution and discovery. It is important as it allows us to continually ask how we can improve or do things differently, as we work collaboratively towards addressing global challenges and creating positive change.
I am an actuary with over 27 years’ experience in consulting and senior executive roles at general insurers in London and Sydney. My expertise is in non-financial risk management and strategy, including climate risk, risk culture and strategic, environmental and social risks. I advise insurers, banks, investors and governments on climate risk management, analytics, strategy and reporting.
Change happens gradually then suddenly
I’m reading (very slowly) Category Theory in Context by Emily Riehl, while listening to Gerard Cousin’s new album Lullabies.
Recently we acquired a dog. Walking Cotton on a daily basis with my sons in our local park has had a wonderful impact on my life.
I really enjoyed and valued my interactions with Professor Norman Wildberger, who supervised my masters project in hyperbolic geometry. I treasure the hours we spent cracking some problems together, which really helped dispel the myth that mathematics is only for the young!
By being grounded in my family – playing with my children and partnering with my wife.
Very much working with my supervisor Professor Wildberger.
As an actuary, my focus is on helping companies and governments make strategic decisions in the light of uncertainty. Science and especially mathematics and statistics are the basis for the advice I provide, whether that is about climate science, the behaviour of cyclones, bushfires and floods, consumer behaviour, or data analytics. Despite the many and varied improvements science has brought to our lives - not least the COVID-19 vaccination - we’re seeing science being undermined through the actions of many. Now, more than ever, science needs to be the basis on which we make decisions.
Jason Chan developed a unique set of hybrid skills through a combined degree at UNSW. The skills he acquired through his undergraduate degree have enabled him to make a tangible environmental impact through his work in environmental planning for an engineering firm.
While studying ecology at UNSW, he was able to work with world-class scientists saving species that were under threat.
We spoke to Jason about where his degree has taken him and why he believes you should follow your passion in life.
Working in the environmental planning team for an engineering firm means I’m always doing something good for society, whether it’s improving the quality of life for the community or improving the environmental conditions. My role allows me to find ways to maximise environmental outcomes or minimise the environmental risks for different infrastructure projects. I get a lot of daily satisfaction from the projects I’m involved in.
It was the industry collaborations UNSW had that first attracted my attention. UNSW has a strong focus on industry collaborations with plenty of opportunities for students to network and develop essential skills for their career. UNSW is also the only place I could study a combined degree in science and business. The combined nature of this degree meant I could major in ecology while developing business management and marketing skills. I chose to study ecology due to the challenges from climate change and urbanisation, putting the Australian environment at huge risk. During my degree, I got to work with world-class scientists to help save some of the most threatened species in Australia.
During my study, I stayed at Warrane College, a residential college on campus. The whole college experience was the most valuable thing I took away from my time at UNSW, whether it’s the friendships I’ve made or attending different college events. It all helped me grow and shaped who I am as a person.
I did a course on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in my third year. I was able to apply everything I’d learned in that course to my current role today, from report writing skills to navigating through complex environmental legislation.
The courses I did included a lot of field trips that helped me understand how to conduct field surveys. This has been really helpful in my current role as I coordinate with environmental specialists who spend time in the field collecting data.
My degree helped me discover what I wanted to do in my career. I started ecology wanting to pursue a career in reptile conservation, a very specialised field. Studying ecology broadened my horizons and taught me a lot about other environmental aspects. I was able to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the environment and look at things with a more holistic view. As a result, I decided to pursue a career as an environmental planner, where I look at things on a higher level.
Follow your passion! There’s nothing worse than studying something you don’t enjoy. Study something you’re passionate about. Science degrees aren’t just for researchers. The critical thinking mindset you develop studying science will take you far in life!
Edith Chow uncovered a fascination for chemistry while studying a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at UNSW. She credits her lecturers with instilling her passion which led her to earning a PhD in the field.
Now a Senior Research Scientist with the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, Edith is part of a team working on a rapid test for COVID-19. Her advice to future science students is to keep an open mind about where you want to end up and follow your curiosity.
We spoke to Edith about her two UNSW Science degrees and her work as a Senior Research Scientist.
I enjoy the process of discovery and the satisfaction that comes along with it. My research at the CSIRO helps tackle industrial and societal challenges, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic. It’s exciting and challenging to be working on a rapid diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 with industry partners and colleagues. I love the high risk, high reward nature of my work.
I visited UNSW when my sister began studying there and I was immediately drawn to the modern, vibrant campus. I was keen to follow my sister’s footsteps at a world-renowned university with a strong reputation in science. There was a diverse range of science programs with the flexibility to tailor your course to your interests.
My time at UNSW enriched my mind and broadened my horizons. I learned to follow my curiosity and trust it will lead me somewhere. UNSW offers lots of study options through elective and general education courses. It wasn’t until second-year analytical chemistry that I discovered what I was truly interested in. My time at UNSW showed me it’s OK to change your mind or not have made up your mind. Just dive in, explore and discover.
My best learning came from hands-on experiences where I put into practice what I’d learned in the classroom. The laboratory practical classes allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts, critical thinking and data analysis skills.
I undertook summer vacation placements in a UNSW research group and at the CSIRO where I further developed my research and communication skills. I was able to learn the importance of effective teamwork and time management. For me, the ability to create trust, possess shared values, set clear goals and juggle conflicting demands are key to leading a successful and rewarding career.
My undergraduate and postgraduate degrees have equipped me with broad scientific skills and a strong appreciation of all aspects of science. Most research is highly interdisciplinary, so I continually learned and adapted while bringing in skills from first year physics or second year biochemistry. Having a chemistry background, I began my career at CSIRO developing chemical sensing technologies. Now I don’t just see myself as a chemist, I’m also a nanotechnologist and materials scientist. My crucial ability to communicate with others across disciplines came from my broad scientific training at university.
Avoid having a rigid mindset of the type of scientist you’d like to become. Explore your passions and skills! Give yourself lots of options and don’t be afraid to take on a course or extra-curricular activity that may be a little different or outside your comfort zone. Also reach out and find a mentor early on. UNSW Science offers a peer mentoring program that can support you in the transition to university life.
Nishant Sharma always had a passion for Aviation. He knew that’s where he wanted to be working upon graduation. Leveraging UNSW’s partnership with Qatar Airways to place graduates within different areas of the organisation, Nishant has experienced the Aviation industry from numerous angles. He currently works as the India Operation’s leader of an Import/Export firm in Hyderabad.
His advice to prospective Aviation students is that flying is the future. We caught up with Nishant recently when he shared his memories of studying Aviation at UNSW and how it helped him get to where he is today.
I’m currently working in an import/export firm ‘Stone Plus’ where I’m handling the whole India market. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing.
I started at UNSW doing a Bachelor of Aviation Management. During my first year, I had the chance to study across a range of areas and I decided Aviation Management had excellent scope in terms of career. I also considered the great Aviation facilities available and the future of the aviation industry.
When I looked at my options for an Aviation degree, UNSW was always my preference as its rankings are superior and nothing beats living in Sydney. It’s a beautiful city.
My degree covered a lot of subject areas with a range of backgrounds from different schools within UNSW. Learning across so many areas I could interact and make friends with students from other degrees.
I’m still close with the friends I made at UNSW. Even across the world, we keep in touch. A Bachelor of Aviation Management engages you by bringing the whole class together to participate and learn. Life on campus is awesome. The campus is beautiful and large, with many cafeterias and green spaces.
In our last term before graduation, the school brought in Qatar Airways for career placement. The roles offered were within different domains of the business, giving us an opportunity to choose which area we’d pursue our career in.
I’ve worked in different domains and departments within the aviation industry, from operations to marketing for Delhi International Airport.
While working in operations, I was part of the Terminal Operations team, a team that helped Indira Gandhi International Airport achieve the ranking of World’s 2nd Best Airport in the largest airport category.
In marketing, I planned and launched a landmark project which was a first of its kind in the country, a complete customer-driven initiative program’ Shop & Collect’.
I made a number of connections when I was in university, some were from my course others were from different courses. Living on campus, I interacted more with people doing all types of degrees and now my friends range from neurosurgeons to judges and airline captains to top architects.
Aviation at UNSW is a great course. The industry is fascinating as everyday flights are becoming more luxurious with shower and bed facilities, and airports are becoming more and more like shopping malls. Flying is the future as flights are becoming more affordable and travel time between countries is decreasing. There’s a lot to do and innovate within the sector and UNSW Aviation is where innovation happens.
Adam is a Taskforce Officer at the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, where he’s working to create tangible and meaningful change in Australia’s National Waste Policy. Adam discovered his passion for the environment while studying a double degree at UNSW, the Bachelor of Science/Social Science, majoring in Biological Science.
Now, he’s helping Australians reduce landfill and tackle an environmental challenge that most of us face each day – what goes in the bin. Adam spoke to us about his time at UNSW and how it helped him get to where he is today.
I studied a double Bachelor of Science/Social Science. My major was Biological Science which I combined with my Social Science major in Public Policy. I then did my Honours in Marine Science studying sea urchin herbivory and their interactions with species of seaweed for Operation Crayweed, a project aiming to reforest Sydney’s marine seaweed population.
I’m currently working for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in the Australian Government’s Waste and Recycling Team. Our team is responsible for implementing the National Waste Policy 2018 and delivering the National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019. Delivering this Action Plan means I’m working towards ambitious national targets that would make Australia a global leader in waste management and recycling - such as reducing total waste generated in Australia by 10 per cent per person by 2030, phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025 and halving food waste by 2030.
I like that my job is part of the solution and not the problem. My role is to think of solutions and help governments, businesses and communities turn waste into resources rather than sending it to landfill. Slowly but surely, I can see the changes I’m making help solve an ongoing environmental challenge that most Australians deal with on a daily basis – what goes in the bin!
In 2018, I joined the Australian Fisheries Management Authority Graduate Program, where I worked on international policy aimed to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Pacific Ocean. I travelled frequently for this role and participated in international delegations.
After the Graduate Program, I joined the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment working on initiatives to reduce marine plastic pollution in Australia and the Pacific. As a result of my work on plastic pollution, I was seconded to work in the Prime Minister’s task force to ban the export of Australia’s waste overseas. I enjoyed waste management and recycling so much that I ended up staying in this area to work on the National Waste Policy 2018.
I enjoyed how practical the courses were. I’m a firm believer that the best learning is hands-on learning. Some of the best memories of UNSW were the research trips up to UNSW’s field station at Smith’s Lake. The Station is used by the school as a research and teaching zone where we could study coastal and marine ecosystems. It was there I discovered my love for the marine environment. I also developed the ability to communicate scientific research into plain language for a range of audiences. This skill has been crucial in my career working with people from all different backgrounds.
Bachelor of Data Science and Decisions, 2020
Thays was born in Brazil, where she studied a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering between 2013 and 2016. The following year, she came to Australia and continued her studies in data science, combining her passion for mathematics and computer science. During her studies, Thays was an active member of the UNSW Data Science Society (DataSoc), and participated in DataSoc’s first ever Datathon, where she placed second. In her final year of study, she interned as a Junior Data Scientist at fashion e-commerce site Hello Molly, and as a Machine Learning Engineer at Remi AI. Thays now works at Google as a Technical Solutions Engineer, where she improves the supportability of Google Cloud services.
Bachelor of Environmental Science, 2017
Growing up in Australia, Nicky Warton loved exploring the environment and getting to know its unique flora and fauna. She was captivated by how the world worked through science and geography. While she wasn’t always sure what kind of job she wanted after university, she knew studying in a field that she loved would help her get a job in an area she was passionate about.
Enjoying a very practical hands-on education as part of her Bachelor of Environmental Science, Nicky uses the skills she developed daily. She’s been able to apply her skills and knowledge to improving the practices and processes in her current role as an Environmental Scientist at Douglas Partners.
We spoke to Nicky about her current role as an Environmental Scientist and how her science degree helped get her there.
I love working as an Environmental Scientist. I’m able to positively impact the environment and world around me and, at the same time, continue to learn about the environment.
I’m passionate about the Australian environment and I have the desire to manage our resources sustainably so that future generations can enjoy them for years to come. It’s a joy to be able to spend my days working towards this goal.
I chose to study at UNSW because of the environmental science degree offered. It gave me the option to major in physical geography and study a broad range of subject areas on both a local and global scale.
Growing up, I loved exploring the Australian environment and its unique flora and fauna. I also loved learning about the environment and discovering how the world worked. I was unsure of what kind of job I wanted when I graduated, so I thought a degree in environmental science would allow me to study something I loved and help me get a job in a field I was passionate about.
During my degree, I gained a range of practical skills through tutorials, laboratory classes and field trips. I gained hands-on experience in geology, soil identification and testing, water testing, surveying and mapping skills. I learned to effectively use the latest technologies and a range of software programs used in the industry.
I’ve drawn on and continue to develop these skills in my current role as an environmental consultant. The practical skills I gained during my degree prepared me well for my current role. They’ve also allowed me to contribute to improving the practices and efficiencies of the processes in my company.
My degree and experience at UNSW not only provided the theoretical knowledge and practical skills I needed as an environmental scientist, but it has opened my eyes to the vast number of career possibilities out there.
During my degree, I explored the world of research and seriously considered a career in it. While I didn’t follow that path, the research opportunities developed the critical thinking and analytical communication skills I use every day.
Being exposed to a wide range of fields within environmental science, I discovered areas I was particularly passionate about, including environmental education. Educating and communicating with people about environmental issues is something I’ll continue to pursue throughout my career.
It wasn’t until I started studying environmental science that I realised how broad the field is and the endless possibilities within the single degree. I studied subjects I thought I’d love but didn’t end up enjoying and subjects I thought I’d dislike and ended up loving.
Science degrees are flexible, so don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do. Keep an open mind, explore all the options and you might just surprise yourself!
Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours), Physics 2016
From a UNSW Science student to a Senior Consultant at Deloitte, working in the area of Analytics and Cognitive, Tristan Dwyer has used his science degree and the hands-on skills he learned to land a role he’s truly passionate about. He advises businesses on their data strategy, builds predictive technologies and develops data governance practices.
Tristan’s work spans various industries that utilise his data science skills. He’s helping organisations use data to address challenges and solve unique problems – for example, so banks can identify serious crimes like money laundering.
We spoke to Tristan about his experience at UNSW and how it has shaped his career.
UNSW’s advanced science degree gave me the opportunity to blend practical project-based experience with academic research. I wanted a degree that would prepare me for the future, but still give me the flexibility and choice between academia and industry.
The ability to collaborate. Problems in science and business aren’t solved in isolation. UNSW fostered an atmosphere of collaboration between students and across disciplines. It gave me the skills to communicate solutions to technical and non-technical team members with different backgrounds, which is valuable today.
The honours research project and practical nature of my degree taught me lessons I use every day. How to plan a project and manage a team’s time. How to communicate scientific concepts in straightforward language. Most importantly, how to deal with complexity. What to do when you’re stuck in a challenging problem and how to create the right framework to tackle it.
Science taught me to love learning, complex problems and teamwork. When I was looking for opportunities in the industry, it was a perfect match with data and consultancy. I wouldn’t have known about this career path or chosen it if it wasn’t for the structure and challenge of my science degree at UNSW.
Throw yourself in the deep end and engage with the degree! There are incredible opportunities to work on projects, join societies and intern with industry. My cohort had students working on top secret Department of Defence projects, building solar-powered racers, interning in businesses and having a blast at student society events.
Explore all your opportunities! STEM students are incredibly in demand in the workforce. By taking on a UNSW science degree, you’re future proofing your career and giving yourself the best chance of landing the exciting opportunity you want after university.