Research Scientist for a week - By Elvis Tran

For a week in June, I was no longer a student bound by books and constantly in a classroom setting. Instead, I had become a research scientist at Bio21, surrounded by million-dollar cutting-edge biotechnology. Wearing a white lab coat and safety goggles everywhere I went, I really did feel like a scientist. But it was not just what I wore: the incredible workshops I took part in, the vibrant scientific atmosphere, being able to talk to and learn from scientists who make real-life contributions to what we know about science today, and a multitude of other factors had allowed me to thoroughly explore what a career pathway in science would be like.

The sensational week at Bio21 provided a myriad of opportunities for me to engage in the work undertaken by scientists. It consisted of touring laboratories, looking at the works of various Bio21 research groups, conducting experiments on a molecular scale and attending seminars and talks of new work by scientists. Although it was not a part of the program, I was also very fortunate to have been able to listen to PhD and Masters students present their thesis.

The week culminated with a poster presentation in which all students in the Melbourne University Work Experience Program were able to present their findings on a topic related to what they had been studying throughout the week. Since I was a part of the Bio21 group, I did not partake in the programs for the other branches of science offered and hence, found it tremendous when I was able to converse with and find out what other students had been endeavoring in as a part Astrophysics, Particle Physics, Chemistry, and Geology to list a few.

Finally, the program ended in the best way possible, in my opinion, with a visit to Scienceworks. While we did not have much time to spend at the museum, we did take part in the planetarium experience which I found to be simply unforgettable. In fact, the whole week was invaluable and being able to have met like-minded new friends and get a taste of university life was a most welcoming bonus. Considering all the incredible things I had done and learnt, it really was a phenomenal week.

My work experience placements at Bio21 was an astounding experience. I learnt not only what a career in science would look like but also essential skills and qualities a person needs to be familiar with when looking to be employed - an utmost necessity being punctuality. As such, I highly encourage future Year 10 students to apply to be a part of the Melbourne University Work Experience Program as I am sure they will, like I was, be provided with nothing short of a worthwhile experience.

Elvis Tran, Mazenod College