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C3 Volunteer revisits passion for the ennvironment

Rebecca Creer in APG Lab

Every year thousands of American students choose to study abroad, as volunteers and interns, as part of their undergraduate degrees. For 23 year old Rebecca Creer the opportunity to gain work experience post graduation, in the clinical research department attached to Wake Forest University, couldn’t be passed up but it left her feeling that she’d missed out on something.
“It was a great 18 months and very worthwhile research into the effects of whole brain irradiation used for cancer research but I came to the conclusion that I wanted to travel and assess whether a research path was for me,” Rebecca said.
“I’d always liked science and having grown up around Chesapeake Bay, which was very polluted, I wanted to revisit a passion for the environment. Australia, with its amazing biodiversity and unique environment was a big drawcard,” she said.
Happily for Rebecca, and UTS:C3, she linked up with Sophia Demetriades from Dream Internship - Australia who put the wheels in motion for Rebecca to spend three months working with coral and algae experts in the Aquatic Processes Group.
“We place students from all over the world for eight week or three month programs during their university holidays. People have different reasons for doing internships but generally speaking the American students really want to learn something they can use,” Ms Demetriades said.
For Rebecca this has definitely been the case. Working on a project aimed at developing tissue culture techniques to avoid destruction of living coral she has learnt how to use PAM technology to measure cell health and has used the fluorescent imaging facilities at UTS to produce “fantastic images”.
“I’ve learnt a lot of new skills and although it was a pretty seamless transition from Wake Forest it is really neat to see how labs are run over here, to see a different outlook and different people’s passion for their research,” Rebecca said.
“It feels like there’s a lot more collaboration here [compared to previous research experiences]. The weekly APG lab meeting gives everyone a voice and their opinions are valued.” Rebecca said.
As for the day to day differences, although language hasn’t been an issue, culture shock can be just around the corner.
“The left hand side thing I was prepared for but it’s lots of small things like going to the grocery store and not knowing the brands or the beeping at the traffic lights. Also, for me, Sydney has so much nature that has been preserved compared to US cities,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca meets the locals

Rebecca, who also joined the Ultimate Frisbee Club at UTS says Australia has been a very welcoming environment.
“I’ve made tons of Aussie friends who I’m going to miss. I have really enjoyed it and would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said.

 

 Rebecca will do some further travelling in Australia before returning home to Maryland, DC where she plans to pursue a career in education. The C3 team wishes her all the best.

 

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