A university degree that helps put food on the table

Publication date
Friday, 17 Jul 2015

Laura Wey has used her undergraduate research experience at ANU to help grow a better future for us all.

Laura, originally from Sydney, is in her honours year of the Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB) conducting research that could determine the future of the human race - improving the availability of food.

As part of her research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Laura is discovering how biotechnology is one of the best tools we have for addressing food security. 

“I am investigating how transporters from blue-green algae work so we can integrate them into plants to improve crop yields,” she says.

It wasn’t until Laura attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) at ANU that she discovered where she wanted to pursue her studies in science.

“The PhB starkly stood out against a background of standard science degrees with its research projects, academic mentors and option for an accelerated pathway into medicine,” she says.

The flexibility and opportunities that the PhB offers Laura have led to a unique study experience.

“I’ve tried languages, physics, anthropology, chemistry, and mathematics, but biology is what I discovered I love the most, particularly genetics.”

The research component of the PhB provides students with the opportunity to not only work on ANU campus with our leading researchers but to work and present research nationally and internationally.

“The PhB has led to working in ANU labs to spending a summer at a CSIRO field station in Queensland,” Laura says.

Laura has also presented her research at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research (ACUR) and the CSIRO Discovery Centre and competed in the International Synthetic Biology (iGEM) competition.

Laura doesn’t have any regrets when looking back at her experiences at ANU as the first person in her family to go to university.

“Although moving out of home and interstate for the PhB daunted me at the time, I had a flying start to my university experience with excellent guidance from older students and mentors.”

 “Canberra, college life and the PhB have given me immeasurable opportunities I couldn't have accessed in a standard science degree in my hometown,” she says.

 “I’d tell my Year 12 self to take the leap again and never forget how lucky I was to have academic scholarships and family support to be able to move to Canberra to study the PhB.”