Alumni Convos – Lynette Plenderleith

Name: Lynette Plenderleith

Current Role: Science Media Freelancer 

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Biological Sciences); Master of Science (Biology); Bachelor of Science (Natural Sciences)

Lynette is currently working as a freelancer, specialising in Science for the Media. Lynette works mostly in television but her dream is to create her own feature length documentary within the next 5 years.  

Get to know Lynette and learn about her journey after university in the interview below: 

What were you highlights of studying at Monash?

The day I handed in my Ph.D. thesis is among the best days of my life. I was escorted from my office by a parade of peers with party hats and a ukulele and we walked together through campus to the graduate office singing and cheering. What I remember most of Monash is the support I got from academics, administration staff and fellow students alike. I could have asked for no more.

What made you want to study at Monash?

Monash University had the course I wanted, the supervisor I wanted and because it is one of the top Universities in the country, it was a pretty easy decision!

Looking back, what skills or experience from Monash have helped you in your career?

Science is one of the best subjects to study to gain transferable skills. I made the switch from scientist to media freelancer without retraining or expanding my skill set. Everything I use in my day to day work – project management, budgeting, writing, presenting – are all skills I acquired or improved at Monash.

Tell us a little more about your current role, what does a typical day at work look like for you? 

I don’t think I have a typical day at work! In some ways, it’s just like everybody else’s – I sit at my desk with a cup of tea and do my best to ignore emails. I think although I’m doing what I always hoped to do, the job itself looks very different to the way it did 20 years ago. Television has become a nebulous entity, mostly online in one way or another. Print media are now on the internet. Mostly I am surprised that I don’t resent the technology. I took a long time to warm to modern methods, preferring for many years a paper and pen and real-live book. Not only have I learned to live with it, but I think embracing it is the only way to make it work. 

If you could go back what advice would you give yourself as a student?

Keep on keeping on. Don’t worry about where you’ll be in five years, ten years, twenty years. Don’t worry about not having a plan. Just do your best and the rest will fall into place. 

What advice would you give to a job seeker fresh out of uni?

Be patient! I spent most of my first year after my BSc being sad and disappointed. I felt like my degree was worthless and that I would never be employable. Turned out that was a long way from the truth!

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Alumni Convos – Mark Fittock

Name: Mark Fittock

Current role: Project Manager, OHB system Germany
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) Honours/ Bachelor of Science (Astrophysics/Applied Maths)

Mark currently works at OHB on future space studies for science and exploration missions. His primary role is as a project lead for the Hera Mission which is planned to fly to an asteroid pair in 2023.

Read on to find out about Mark’s journey after university in the interview below:

What path did you take in your career after graduating from Monash?
After I graduated at Monash, I went on to do a double masters in space technology in Europe, suitably called the “Spacemasters”. I then started at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

What challenges did you have to overcome in pursuing your career path?
The distance from my friends and family in Australia was tough! Living and working in a country with a different language and different culture is both exciting and challenging.

How did studying Science at Monash help you in your career?
The practical experience! I didn’t realise how important this was going to be but the skills I learnt in the labs have been invaluable! Along with reasoning and deduction skills too!

If you were to offer advice to a job seeker fresh out of university, what advice would you give?
Make and use connections in order to explore different options. Find jobs that excite you and inspire you to aim for the stars. Take a chance! The only way to find out if a job is right for you is to give it a shot!

How do you see the future job market for astrophysicists? What is your advice for a Monash alum to succeed in this industry?
The skills learnt in astrophysics are valuable across many fields and roles. There is so much to learn across the world that looking abroad can be a great chance to find new opportunities and career paths.

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Celebrate World Chimp Day with Trivia!

Join Roots & Shoots Victoria on Saturday 13th July for an afternoon of trivia and test your knowledge on Dr Jane Goodall, great apes and sustainability issues. You will also have the opportunity to hear from Dr Varsha Pilbrow, researcher and lecturer at the University of Melbourne, talk about chimpanzee behaviours and structural features that help us better understand the evolutionary process of humans. Nibbles will be offered at the event.

When: 4:00 -6:00 pm, Saturday 13th July

Where: Port Phillip EcoCentre, 55A Blessington St, St Kilda 3182.

Cost: $15 per person- book as an individual or as a table of 5 ($75)

Prizes: The winning table will be awarded a personalised tour of the Pilbrow Laboratory by Dr Varsha Pilbrow, where you will view 3D-printed skeletal features of great apes and archaeological artefacts. Also included will be a trip to Melbourne Zoo (complimentary entry) where you will have the chance to observe primate behaviour in real-time with Dr Varsha. Exciting prizes also for the runners-up!

Money raised for the event will contribute towards the care of chimpanzees in JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre located in the Republic of Congo, where over 150 rescued orphan chimpanzees receive lifetime care.

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Integral Parody Song by George Sariklis

“I came across this article in my readings, and thought it sounded an awful lot like the title of the Bangles song, ‘Walk like an Egyptian’. Seeing the opportunity for a good parody, I wrote a verse to the tune of ,’Walk like an Egyptian'”
~ George Sarikilis
All statistical physicists, they have to use Stirling’s old technique,
If it doesn’t work (O-A-O), their future is definitely bleak
Differential systems will show how these particles accelerate,
If they can’t be solved (O-A-O), they’ll have to go and approximate,
Articles about integrals say (A-O-A-O-A-O-A-OOOOOOOOOO),

 

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A Real Jurassic Park? Amber in Myanmar

 

A real Jurassic Park? Amber in Myanmar.

by Christina Nelson

 

The trilogy, Jurassic Park, and now the fourth instalment, Jurassic World, is a stroke of cinematic genius. It is probably safe to say that many share this view given the films have grossed in excess of US$1 billion dollars. Simply, it is a type of movie that you can watch over and over again and never get bored. It is a type of movie that you can rug up to on a Friday night, whilst your friends are drinking their twenties away, and you remain at home with your Ben and Jerry’s cookie and cream ice-cream. The films make you challenge what seemingly is the impossible. Even when watching Jurassic Park today, I still catch myself thinking ‘yep this could totally happen’ (even though as a scientist you should always question). The films capture the balance between an absolute lack of foresight with occasional pearls of wisdom (i.e. Ian Malcolm) and theatrical (albeit theoretically incorrect) movie science. The question that I really want to ask: can Jurassic Park really happen?

 

Photography by E. Penalver via Nature Communications.

 

Well, several recent archaeological finds, have all originated from one remarkable site: the amber mines of northern Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley. The recent discoveries include a new species of insect, that looks more like E.T., an intact feathered tail of a small carnivorous dinosaur, and a nearly complete 99 million-year-old baby bird. Another remarkable amber discovery was a tick fossilized from the Dominican Republic that may have fed on dinosaurs. This discovery seems to have been written for a plot straight out of one of Spielberg’s movies. Like the movie, could the tick make for the cloning of dinosaurs possible?

Since amber specimens are fossils, this means that DNA will not be preserved well. In our case, we want dinosaur (‘dino’) DNA. In fact, scientists calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. This means that after 521 years, half of the bonds which link DNA would have decayed, and then in another 521 years another half, and so on. This is also increased by other factors, like the actual conditions of fossilization, such as, excessive dehydration and the dynamic changes in temperature over time. Now, this (sadly) means that after approximately 1.5 million years the sequence of DNA would be virtually unreadable and after 6.8 million years, all bonds would no longer exist, meaning that our dino DNA would not be viable to use in a cloning experiment. Of course, even if there was some dino DNA left, we would then need to replace the ‘missing’ DNA with that of an acceptable donor cell of an animal that scientists select to clone.

This means (unfortunately?) I do not think that we should be expecting a real life Jurassic Park-type reanimation any time soon. Personally, I do not fancy a Tyrannosaurus rex roaming around New York city. We, whether that be scientists or lawyers ectara, do not have some sort of ‘God-complex’ and Ian Malcolm is correct ‘life finds a way’. We simply cannot resolve nature’s resistance to control. So, for now, these amber finds are just simply fascinating. Let’s leave it at that.

 

 

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Curie, Meitner, Lamarr – Indivisible

 

It’s hard to believe but women in the 20th century were once perceived as incapable of advanced abstract thought – yet they were responsible for some of the world’s greatest scientific discoveries.

Monash University’s Faculty of Science, in conjunction with the School of Physics and Astronomy, is proud to present the international play ‘Curie, Meitner, Lamarr – Indivisible’ as part of National Science Week in August. There are 2 sessions, on the 15th and 16th of August and tickets are FREE!

 

Dates and locations

Tues, 15 August

8pm-10pm

Lecture Theatre Central 1 (C1)

Monash University Clayton Campus, Wellington Road , Clayton, Victoria

Wed, 16 August

6.30pm-8.30pm

Monash Cinema

Monash University Clayton Campus, Wellington Road , Clayton, Victoria

Learn more about the lives of these three women pioneers at: https://www.monash.edu/science/news/current/international-play-to-highlight-the-plight-of-three-pioneer-women-scientists

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