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Australian National University
University of Newcastle
ANSTO Graduate (Science Communication)
Michael Studied Bachelor of Mathematics and Science at University of Newcastle and Master of Science Communication at Australian National University
What's your job about?
ANSTO is one of the largest science organisations in Australia and is home to Australia’s expertise in nuclear science and technology. I am currently working within ANSTO’s communications and outreach teams to inform and educate students, teachers and the Australian public about the benefits of nuclear science and technology and the outcomes we deliver at ANSTO in the areas of human health, the environment and solutions for industry.
My first rotation was with ANSTO’s Discovery Centre, helping to deliver education and outreach programs to ANSTO’s 15 000 yearly visitors. No two days were ever the same, but a typical day might start with giving a presentation or science show to visiting students, followed by running a tour of ANSTO’s world-class scientific facilities including the OPAL multi-purpose reactor and the Centre for Accelerator Science. Afterwards, I might spend time designing new outreach activities or coordinating existing programs.
My main focus during this rotation was coordinating ANSTO’s national work-experience program, the Big Ideas Forum. This program brought students and teachers from around Australia to Sydney for four days, where they worked one-on-one with ANSTO researchers to explore their big ideas for the future of science – in medicinal chemistry, environmental science, theoretical physics, and more.
What's your background?
My amazing teachers at All Saints College (St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s) inspired me to pursue a career in science and mathematics. While I was completing a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Newcastle, my supervisor, Laureate Prof. Jon Borwein, encouraged me to become heavily involved in science education and outreach.
After spending years teaching undergradutes, writing online articles and giving radio interviews in my spare time away from research, I decided to turn science communication from a hobby to a full-time career. I studied a Master of Science Communication at the Australian National University, which led to my current role in the ANSTO Graduate Development program. I have been working at ANSTO for the past twelve months.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
The ANSTO education officers working in the Discovery Centre are drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, from researchers to high-school teachers and science communications experts. What everyone shares in common is an excellent set of communication skills and a passion for sharing the stories behind some amazing Australian science and technology.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The best part of working at an organisation like ANSTO has to be the vast array of rewarding opportunities available. During my time here I have run a national work experience program and met some amazing and talented students and teachers. I have represented Australia at an international workshop in Thailand, and I have written and delivered an interactive quiz to an audience of thousands. All in just the first of three rotations!
What are the limitations of your job?
I work in a small, highly-talented team at ANSTO. The size of the team presents some challenges, with occasional high workloads and priorities that can shift rapidly from day-to-day as opportunities arise. It’s a fun and dynamic workplace that is highly rewarding, but also demands flexibility and the ability to juggle multiple tasks and deadlines.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Seek out every opportunity you can, especially in areas you might not be comfortable with (like giving public talks or teaching students). Developing good communication skills and making professional connections will boost your career opportunities immensely.
- Practice good time-management skills. They might be the single biggest factor that determines your success or failure. Make sure you have enough time in your weekly schedule to study effectively and enough time to relax and take care of your life outside of university. Don’t overdo one at the expense of the other.
- If balancing everything proves to be challenging, don’t hesitate to talk to your university counsellors. They have been through this before and are experts in helping students in your situation – so make good use of them!