Meagan Lowe, NYSF 2008 Alumna — Sea, Sand & Science

Meagan Lowe attended the NYSF in 2008 and has been busy ever since taking on exciting new science related adventures and challenges. In her own words…

 

“I am lucky to have already had many interesting and diverse experiences in my academic and early professional career. Attending the NYSF in 2008 certainly opened my eyes to the huge range of disciplines and opportunities in science, and it inspired me to seek them out for myself. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the best part was hanging out with other students from all over Australia, and generally having a great time!

Fighting bushfires in Victoria

Given my strong interest in the environmental sciences, I chose to study a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Geography and Ecology, while also completing a Diploma of Modern Languages (French). I specialised in Coastal Geomorphology in my fourth year, and completed an honours thesis investigating the stability of artificial beaches in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.
Following my undergraduate studies I moved to Anglesea, on the southwest coast of Victoria, to work as an Environmental Planner for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (now DELWP). This role involved processing Coastal Management Act consents for use and development of coastal Crown land, and providing advice to communities and land managers on coastal management issues. Alongside this work I gained my General Firefighter Accreditation, and responded to bushfires in the Alpine National Park, Grampians National Park, and planned burns along the Great Ocean Road.

Meagan carrying out beach surveying work

Feeling up for a new challenge, in late 2014 I moved to New Zealand to take up a role as Coastal Scientist for a small coastal science consulting company, Coastal Research Ltd. In this role I used a coastal hazard analysis framework to investigate the risk of drowning and injury at beaches around New Zealand, coupled with analysis of incident statistics, demographic data, and user resilience. This information was provided to territorial authorities and surf lifesaving organisations to guide use of current and future resources, such as recommended surf lifeguarding service lengths. This work enabled me to travel all over New Zealand, and even to Malaysia to present at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in 2015.

However, I was always keen to return to the world of research, and I am now back in Australia in the second week of my PhD in Coastal Geomorphology, whilst also continuing to work part-time for Coastal Research Ltd. My PhD project will investigate the morphodynamics of low-lying reef islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and their vulnerability to erosion under future climate scenarios. I am excited for the challenge ahead, to grow my research skills, and to make a contribution to the wider body of geomorphological knowledge.

My best advice for NYSF participants and other young scientists is: be confident to choose your own path, not the one you think people expect of you, and don’t be afraid to change up your career. You’re young and intelligent, and you can only benefit from exposure to a wide range of people, ideas and experiences.”

While working in New Zealand

NYSF featured in Lockheed Martin Australia STEM dialogue in Canberra

Five NYSF alumni were honoured to be part of the Lockheed Martin Australia STEM dialogue hosted in Canberra last week. Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson applauded the National Youth Science Forum’s (NYSF) efforts in encouraging thousands young Australians to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Ms Hewson underscored the importance of innovation and STEM skills to Australia’s future, noting this was the reason the aerospace and defense industry leader had made the three-year commitment to the National Youth Science Forum in 2015.

During the dialogue, recent NYSF alumni reflected on key moments in their lives that inspired their interest in pursuing STEM fields and how industry and government can inspire more young people to study STEM. In particular, the alumni talked about how the NYSF inspired them, by exposing them to tangible problems, introducing them to potential opportunities in STEM, and by showing how science is applied in a wide array of fields to improve the world.

In photo with Ms Hewson (centre), National Youth Science Forum Alumni (from left):              Ms Ashley Dunne, Ms Bella Mortimore, Ms Matilda Dowse, Mr Andrew George and Ms Kaliopi Notaras

Ashley Dunne, originally from Perth but now studying Engineering at The Australian National University (ANU), attended the NYSF in January 2013, and shared the impact of the program on her decision-making.

“On my return home after the NYSF I began applying for engineering degrees at interstate universities, something that I would never have had the confidence or skills to do previously.

“Since graduating from high school, the NYSF has continued to open doors for me. I have made contacts both in universities around Australia and in industry who have opened their doors at the very mention of the NYSF program. Even when I first moved to the ANU to begin my degree, I think I was far more prepared to start university that a vast majority of my cohort, because of the skills learned on the program.

Without attending the NYSF, I wouldn’t be at ANU, I wouldn’t be doing innovative research at a local hospital and I certainly would not be able to stand here this evening and speak to you. The NYSF program has given me this self-confidence and that is the most valuable thing I could have asked for.”

Matilda Dowse attended the NYSF in January 2016 and completed year 12 at Canberra College that same year. She has just begun a double degree of Engineering (R&D) and a Bachelor of International Security Studies. “The Lockheed Martin dinner was a fantastic opportunity to interact with some of the leading national and international innovators and policymakers in STEM. Being allowed to seriously discuss important issues in the future of STEM education and industry with leaders from our community gave me valuable, critical insight into my dream field, and what we can do to improve it.”

Position Available: Project Officer

The NYSF currently have a position available working as a Project Officer within the Programs Team.

“Working in a small team, the Project Officer will report to the Manager, Programs and undertake a broad range of administrative and planning tasks relating to the delivery of the suite of programs delivered by the National Youth Science Forum. These programs include the January Sessions for Year 12 students and the related Next Step follow-up events, the National Science Teachers Summer School, the NYSF International Program, the Student Staff Leadership Program, and the STEM Explorer Program for years 7 and 8 students.”

To read the entire Position Description please follow this link – Project Officer Position Description – March 2017