Environmental Scientist

Photo by: Sabrina Lauriston

“I love this STEM occupation, and my hobby of photography and science communication, because I feel it gives me purpose. We’re very lucky to live on such a beautiful planet with such unique animals and fungi and plants.”

— Melissa Christi

Q: Where did you go to Primary school?

Norville State School, in Bundaberg

Q: Which were your favourite subjects in high school?

English; Science; Technologies and The Arts; Manual Arts (wood and metal working), rowing, and the orchestra (I played the cello and still do).

Q: What further study/qualifications did you complete after high school?

Bachelor of Science (Applied Sciences), Graduate diploma of Ornithology, Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours).

Q: What is the name of your STEM career?

Environmental Scientist – Ornithology (the study of birds) /field ecology

Q: What attracted you to this STEM career?

I’ve always been fascinated by the living world around us. Birds in particular have intrigued me since I was a little girl, with their ability to adapt to their continually changing environment. I also love the outdoors, and wanted to find a career that would allow me to enjoy being outside and contribute something meaningful to society.

Q: What is some of the typical work you do in this career?

My journey in this field has taken me on some interesting adventures. While school and university give you great skills, fieldwork is where you develop key skills that are often applicable across several fields. I decided to do further study, and am now an Honours student, and my project is primarily data analysis, looking at how bird presence and health may change in response to climate change.

Before this, I was trying to build my experience by volunteering where I could on different projects. This work included: camera trapping, fauna surveys, behavioural monitoring, vegetation assessments, mist netting for birds and bats, and monitoring marine turtles and their nests. I was even a volunteer zookeeper for a little while! These projects were long hours and usually hard work, but I’ve seen some spectacular country and met wonderful people because of it.

Q: What do you love about your job?

I love this STEM occupation, and my hobby of photography and science communication, because I feel it gives me purpose. We’re very lucky to live on such a beautiful planet with such unique animals and fungi and plants. However, the climate crises we’re facing means we must move quickly to learn about them before we lose them. The other bonus of this field is meeting so many other passionate, hard-working people who inspire me with their dedication.

I’m deaf/Hard of hearing and want to show students that you can still have the career you want if you are prepared to go about it a different way. There are many, many paths up the mountain – so to speak 🙂 I had a lot of stigma about being deaf to work through when I was in primary/high school. I’d love to show students that they’re worthy of embracing all aspects of themselves.

Melissa Christi