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What degree are you undertaking? 
I am a PhD candidate in Biology. My area of research encompasses Molecular Microbiology looking at antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens and Synthetic Biology to find solutions to reduce the need for fossil fuel derived chemicals.

What made you want to run in the 2022 UNSA election? 

I have been the elected member for postgraduate research on the Academic Senate for the last two years and have enjoyed my time in that position. In that time, I have been a member of the research committee, the institutional biosafety committee and the Academic Senate ex-officio member on the UNSA SRC. The time I have spent engaging with the SRC and UNSA as a whole has been inspiring and I would like to bring some of my experience from other governance areas of the University to the SRC.

What about the position you applied for appealed to you? 
The last two years have been difficult for all students, yet there seems to have been a significant lack of consideration for the effects on postgraduate students. These students are candidates for the top qualifications awarded by tertiary institutions, but often fall into the cracks between staff and undergraduate students. I have worked closely with the new Dean of Graduate Research and a small group of research students to try and address some of these issues. If elected to Postgraduate Student Senate Convenor, I would be able to continue this advocacy from a stronger position.

Why do you think it’s important for students to get involved in leadership roles, societies and clubs, and engagement events?
Engagement with the University in any manner is important for collegial growth. The two previous Vice Chancellors of UON effectively removed the ability for students to grow in indirect ways by shutting down campus activities and the student voice. Leadership roles, societies and clubs, engagement events,student spaces, and on-campus culture create experiences that grow global citizens, rather than pump out students from a degree mill. There is a reason that the top Universities around the world encourage and support vibrant campus culture and student lifestyle.

How do you manage conflicts or deal with problems?
Conflict is always hard, but step one is to understand the issue from the point of view of the other person. Only then is there room to pursue a meaningful resolution.

What are your interests at university and outside of university that make you a great candidate?
I’m interested in governance and the direction of the tertiary sectors current funding models. There seems to be a big push for industry engagement for universities from governments, but little on how this will be defined. Clearly, some areas of research are easily transferable to this type of model and were already working well, but others need some help. I think there is an opportunity for engagement with professional associations and what can be complimentary for the future of our tertiary sector. Not to mention the importance of a wide and diverse research environment separated from private companies. 
“The value of basic research is you discover something you didn’t expect—that nobody expected.”  - Richard Schrock; Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2005.

What’s one issue you would bring to light, or one student engagement activity you would pitch, as a student leader?
I think there will be quite a lot of support needed to encourage both a research culture and a social culture after we emerge from this pandemic. There will be many students who have only been researchers in this environment, as well as a push for universities to show they are supporting these students. One thing to remember is that postgraduate students are already VERY time poor, so token events or activities that add no value and just take up time for the students, should be avoided and discouraged.

What would you tell your younger self if you could go back in time?
Its ok to take time off in your job! Jobs come and go but you’ll never get that time back.

Tell us an interesting fact we should know about you: 
I love to home brew and unwind on weekends by brewing beers. My favourite beer to brew is chocolate oatmeal milk stout.

Finally, why should students vote for you?
I have had previous experience in governance roles at the University as well as spending years in management roles in hospitality. I am also on the committees of two professional associations, the Joint Academic Microbiology Seminars (JAMS) and the NSW-ACT branch of The Australian Society of Microbiology. As I have already connected with members of the managerial professoriate and have learnt the rules of the governance process, I can hit the ground running, ready to start.

The answers above reflect the unedited opinions of the running candidates. These attitudes do not necessarily reflect the values of UNSA, Opus, or the University of Newcastle as a whole. We wish all the candidates the best of luck and ask all readers to use their vote wisely. Not all candidates listed may appear on your election ballot if they have not fulfilled all pre-election criteria set by the University of Newcastle.