Working in the research field of science

Publication date
Thursday, 5 Nov 2020

Working in the research field of science can be a challenging task. I have found that there are often limited positions for entry-level jobs, with each having very strong competition. Even when that ideal jobs comes along, limited project funding means that ongoing employment opportunities are often difficult to come by.

After graduating from my Bachelor degree at ANU, I found a job that was not too bad, but didn’t meet my career aspirations. This prompted me to once again enrol at ANU, this time in a Masters of Environment. After graduating, I eventually landed a job as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This opportunity came about from the results of my Master dissertation topic.

I completed my dissertation in the field of sustainable agriculture. Through grant funding provided by the university, I was given the unique opportunity to visit a small-scale irrigation scheme in the south of Zimbabwe. This scheme is occupied by farmers of subsistence lifestyles, however many farms were not performing and poverty was high. My dissertation aimed to outline where future work and investment may be needed through remote sensing. My time at the irrigation scheme was spent talking to farmers, understanding their way of life, and collecting reference data for my analysis. Ultimately my research developed a simple, free approach to map and monitor land productivity. I hope that my research can contribute to helping local farmers to not only survive from their crops, but to generate profits.

My dissertation research led me to my current job, working on a very similar project in Cambodia under the United Nations. While this project is about to end, I am optimistic that this will open more employment opportunities ahead within the sector.

If you are a first-year science student, my advice would be to take a wide variety of subjects. This will give you a taste of what you might be interested in before deciding on a major or future study. A career in the science field may be tough to start with, but it is highly rewarding and enables you to make meaningful real-world contributions .

Gareth is an ANU alumni. He was a student at the ANU and a casual research assistant at Fenner School of Environment and Society.

Originally published on Faces of ANU.

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