At the NYSF's first National Youth STEM Summit, we had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Joy - an alum of the 2021 NYSF Year 12 Program. Joy is currently studying a Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges at Monash University, with a major in Microbiology and minor in Biochemistry.
What got you into STEM?
I was always the annoying child that repeatedly asked, “Why?” until adults (mostly my parents and teachers) would lose their patience. This unrelenting curiosity is what led me down the path of science, as I’ve always had a passion for learning about the mechanisms that underpin the functioning of our world. My passion for science was further nurtured by my Year 10 work experience at the Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute, as it opened my eyes to the vast microscopic world of bacteria and viruses - and I haven’t been able to look anywhere else since!
What are you looking forward to in your career?
After my degree, I’m looking forward to jumping into the world of industry and research! By that point, I hope that I will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to address some of the world's most pressing problems. I’m also keen to continue learning and growing during the process of my career journey.
What problems in the world do you want to solve with microbial discoveries?
Microbiology has extensive applications in a wide range of industries - there’s not only the typical medical context of microbiology (infectious diseases, etc), but it can also be applied to solve problems ranging from climate change, waste processing, species conservation, food production and more. I’m keen to try a little bit of everything and see what I like best! I’m interested in all of these different areas so I’m excited to gain some more research and industry experience and then see what I prefer.
What was your most memorable moment from the NYSF Year 12 Program?
One of the most memorable moments from the NYSF Year 12 program (run online during 2021) was creating biodegradable plastic from potato starch in my own kitchen. I remember frantically mixing ingredients together, laptop propped up on a nearby bench, and family members eyeing me warily as I wreaked havoc in the kitchen!
Other highlights from the NYSF Year 12 program included the close-knit group of friends that I made, attending Zoom meetings hosted by Nobel Prize winners (Prof. Barry Marshall and Prof. Brian Schmidt), getting to see a day in the life of an Antarctic researcher, seeing the particle accelerator in Geneva and having our minds opened to galaxies through astronomy!
What advice would you give your Year 12 self?
Just breathe! Try not to stress, everything will work out in the long run. Just keep your head down, keep studying, and it will all work out for the best. Don’t forget to take care of yourself (eat well, sleep enough, spend time with friends) because prioritising studies over physical and mental health has never worked out well for anyone in the long run.
Are you or someone you know a Year 11 student interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)?
Applications close 31 July 2023.