Meet our Alumni

Thays Costa, Bachelor Data Science and Decisions

Jason Chan, Environmental Planner at WSP

Bachelor of Science and Business
Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Jason Chan Alumni

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 to him and why he believes you should follow your passion in life.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

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.

Why did you choose to study a Science degree at UNSW?

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.

What’s the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

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. How has the hands-on experience you received at

How has the hands-on experience you received at UNSW helped in your current role?

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 which 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.

How has your degree shaped your career?

My degree helped me discover what I wanted to do in my career. I started ecology wanting to pursue a career in reptile conservation which is 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.

What advice would you give to a Science degree graduate?

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!

Nicky Warton, Environmental Scientist at Douglas Partners

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 on a daily basis. 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 Scientists and how her science degree helped get her there.

What do you enjoy most about working in Environmental Science?

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 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.

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Environmental Science at UNSW?

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.

How has the hands-on experience you received at UNSW helped in your current role?

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 continued to develop these skills in my current role as an environmental consultant. The practical skills I gained during my degree prepared me very well for my current role. They’ve also allowed me to contribute to improving the practices and efficiencies of the processes in my company.

How do you feel that your degree shaped your career?

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.

What advice would you give someone considering a science degree at UNSW?

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!

Edith Chow, Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO

Bachelor of Science (Hons) 2002, PhD in Chemistry 2006

edith alumni

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.

What do you enjoy most about your career in Science?

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.

Why did you choose to study a Science degree at UNSW?

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.

What’s the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

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.

How has the hands-on experience you received at UNSW helped in your current role?

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.

How has your degree shaped your 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 uni.

How do you get the most out of a Science degree at UNSW?

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 which can support you in the transition to university life.

Tristan Dwyer, Analytics & Cognitive Consultant at Deloitte

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.

Why did you choose to study a science degree at UNSW?

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.

What’s the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

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.

How has the hands-on experience you received at UNSW helped in your current role?

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.

How has your degree shaped your career?

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.

How do you get the most out of a science degree?

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.

What advice would you give to a science degree graduate?

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.