Graduate and Student Profiles
"My course gives me a grounding foundation in a wide range of scientific areas, which many future employers find incredibly attractive, allowing me to stand out from the crowd."
The undergraduate curriculum is organised to provide you with an opportunity to develop your interests within biology. First year units of study provide a broad overview of key biological concepts. Subsequent years become increasingly specialised. We emphasise the principles underpinning modern biology and ensure that current issues are incorporated into our teaching program. Our teaching draws on the first-class research of our academic staff and their international colleagues.
“The field trips in my courses have been really wonderful. Also the lecturers have been approachable and keen on their subjects – and that makes it easier to learn.”
Biology students are strongly encouraged to specialise by continuing into the fourth year Honours program. The Honours program gives students the chance to refine their biological knowledge and research skills.
Dave McElroy is passionate about environmental science and conservation in marine environments. This drive to make a difference led Dave to pursue research on star fish, looking at how the "twin evils" of ocean warming and acidification are impacting the life stages of two closely related species.
"It’s difficult to study environment science and not become motivated to make a contribution and a difference. I chose to do an honours project in biology in order to understand how climate change will affect the simpler members of our marine ecosystems."
Dave is now working on his PhD project exploring Biodiversity Quantification and Management in marine ecosystems.
"I wanted to work on another human-impacts issue and working with biodiversity, and eventually biodiversity offsets, will give me a springboard towards a vocation that deals with more applied science."
Katherine Tuft is a Wildlife Ecologist working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and is based at the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberly.
In 2005, Katherine conducted an honours project looking at whether Brush tailed rock wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) are negatively affected by competition for food from other wallaby and kangaroo species in the Warrumbungle National Park.
"My honours year set me up for conducting discrete research projects within a tight timeframe. I was also fortunate to be working with National Parks and Wildlife staff on macropod management, which gave me insight into the conservation applications of ecology."
After completing honours, she continued her studies on the foraging ecology of Brush-tailed rock wallabies with a PhD project.
"Doing a PhD gave me time to develop important skills such as microscopy, mapping, rock-climbing, presenting at conferences, volunteer recruitment and writing."
"As a bonus, my PhD also led me to this awesome job!"
Kirstin Proft decided to take on an honours project on a species of rainforest tree that is found right across south-east Australia, to see if there were patterns in its physical characteristics and genetics that related to geography or other factors.
"Doing second and third year undergraduate courses and advanced projects made me keen to sink my teeth into my own research project and I wanted a project which would allow me to do both lab work and field work."
Her honours research led her to a job as a Biodiversity Conservation Officer at the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA), focussing on environmental advocacy and conservation projects focussing on a wide range of ecosystems in NSW.
"My job at the NPA requires me to translate scientific concepts and studies into everyday language and communicate them to general audiences. Honours really developed my written and verbal communication skills and has given me the confidence to step up to challenges in my current job."
"Doing honours in biology is dynamic and challenging. It provides intensive training in project management, multi-tasking and team-work, and gives valuable insight into what is involved in an academic research career."
A love of Botany led Zane Duxbury to study Plant Science in the School of Biological Sciences.
"Studying in biology gave me many opportunities to undertake my own research projects. Honours was the natural choice for me to continue my undergraduate research on the fascinating cyanobacterium, Acaryochlois marina, which uses chlorophyll d to photosynthesise in low light."
After finishing honours, Zane was offered a position as a Research Projects Officer at CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra.
"Honours cultivated my independence as a scientist. The experience I gained in the lab was a great advantage for my current job and my supervisors were the best I could hope for."
"I've wanted to be a marine biologist all my life. So during my degree I did all the bio units I could. Doing honours is a great way to prove my capacity for independent research."
"Biology struck me as an immediate and directscience, full of colour and hubbub.It's often both intellectually and physically adventurous. I wanted to be a part of that."
Talented Student Program
"Being a part of the talented students program showed me how real research is done. You get to participate in research that has never been done before, which is really special."
The Talented Student Program offers students special project work that introduces them to research activities supervised by academic staff in the School of Biological Sciences. The aim is to broaden your knowledge of Biology and give you an insight into how biologists think and how a real research project is tackled.
"I moved to Sydney because the University of Sydney offered top quality facilities and the reputation of being at the forefront of scientific research. I have gained a variety of new technical skills which will make me more employable in the future."
Visit the postgraduate page to find out more about postgraduate study in the School.
“In my BSc degree I liked how I could choose to study advanced subjects, which enabled me to work on a project in a research laboratory. I did an advanced project in the lab in which I am now doing my PhD.”