Tuesday, 13 August 2013

All creatures great and small

In the first post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.
Dr Emma Zalcman is a young Australian scientist working for all creatures great and small
Each year ACIAR hires recently-graduated students from Universities across Australia. Emma Zalcman is one of three graduates from various science fields to work in our research programs.

Emma studied at the University of Melbourne and has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. After graduating in 2009, Emma spent 2010 volunteering as a vet for domestic Elephants in Laos.

Emma working her veterinary skills with an elephant in Laos
I loved working with elephants in Laos and it really opened my eyes as to how heavily some people in developing countries rely on animals for their livelihood. It made me realise the huge potential there is to alleviate poverty through simple improvements in animal health and production and influenced my decision to work in foreign aid.”

When Emma returned to Australia she worked in a private veterinary practice before joining ACIAR.  While she loved working as a vet, her time in Laos had given her a different perspective on animal health.   

I began to realise that I could use veterinary skills and expertise and apply them to a ‘bigger picture’ and as soon as I had this epiphany, it was difficult for me to keep working on helping individual cats and dogs,”  Emma said.

Emma enrolled in the Masters of Veterinary Public Health Management at Sydney University where she met Jenny Hanks, a previous Graduate Officer at ACIAR.  Jenny told Emma about the graduate position at ACIAR, and Emma was sold.   

Emma is working as a Graduate Officer in the Animal Health Program. Emma will also spend some time working in ACIAR's Fisheries program.
Emma Zalcman, Graduate Officer at ACIAR
“I think working at ACIAR is the perfect entry-level position for someone like me. I hope it will give me a really good overview of the sort of work that is going on in animal health research for the purpose of poverty alleviation.” Emma Zalcman
Emma hopes to continue to be involved in foreign aid animal health projects in the future. “Ideally, I’d like to move to a developing country again and contribute to animal health field work in R&D projects. I’m hoping my time at ACIAR will help me to build a strong network through which an opportunity to further my work in this field might arise.” 

Now into it’s sixteenth year, National Science week provides an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists’ to the world of knowledge. It also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public, and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in. As an agricultural science research agency employing people like Emma, ACIAR certainly contributes to this world of knowledge.

These three young adults have remarkable stories to share as a result of their love of science.  This is the week (if any!) to invigorate your love of science. Check out what National Science Week events are happening throughout Australia. 

Further information: 
National Science Week
ACIAR Recruitment (note: there are currently no vacancies with ACIAR but when positions become available they are posted here)
Austraining International's Australian Volunteers Program 
Related blog posts: 
Young scientists getting down and dirty (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer, Jack Koci)
Young researcher forages for answers (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer Bonnie Flohr) 
Agriculture and the skills challenge: finding the links between uni and industry (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Brendan Brown)
Building markets for Vietnamese indigenous vegetables (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Rebecca McBride

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