What employment sector do you work in?

Academia Sector

How long have you had a green job for nature?

4 years

Salary Range

£20,000 – £25,000

Please describe the work that you do.

As a research assistant, I contribute to the team by managing research work, including fieldwork planning and data collection. Additionally, I develop and refine models using the collected data to enhance and add value to the scientific papers and research conducted by the team. I have also volunteered to take on the role of Lab and Safety Manager, ensuring that the labs are in optimal functioning condition and that the team operates safely during all activities.

What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?

What I like most about my current job is the autonomy it provides. I have the authority to make independent decisions, with my overseeing professor available to offer guidance as needed. This level of autonomy allows me to be creative in addressing research questions and helps in developing critical thinking skills to solve problems.

What inspired you into this career? 

Growing up, I had the opportunity to explore the nearby forest, observing owls and hornbills providing for their nests, and insects going about their days. It captivated me. I also often recall a memory of free diving into the ocean and coming up close to a giant grouper along the eastern coast of Malaysia, with the vast, never-ending blue ocean behind the seemingly massive grouper.

In recent years, having been given the opportunities to do research, I have been further inspired by the opportunity to help better the world around us by further observing and understanding it.

Knowing that such everlasting memories will be with me for the rest of my life, I want to continue making more of such amazing memories.

Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far? 

Some challenges that I have faced in progressing my career so far include the opportunity to specialise in the topic I am particularly interested in, and the opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna from different regions.

What education/training did you have?

I did my bachelor’s at the University of New South Wales, majoring in Environmental Management with a focus on Ecology.

As a research assistant, I allocate time to attend lectures by various professors and participate in talks to stay updated on research and to remain sharp in terms of content that I have learned in the past. I also enrol in relevant classes, such as wilderness first aid and rock climbing, for fieldwork purposes.

I also actively participate in social science activities on iNaturalist. By doing so, I can learn about the local fauna and flora as I capture images.

What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession? 

My advice is to recognize that there will always be opportunities for development and learning. Therefore, never give up, and always strive to do your best in everything you pursue.

Tags: International (Singapore), Academia sector, Researcher, Educator, Ecologist

Follow Zihan

iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/people/zihanaw

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zihan-aw-009223230/

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