“If you are passionate about what you do for work, it will not be work but an extension of your life. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and opportunities have come my way because of my driven personality”
Amanda Lilleyman is in her final year of her PhD at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory. Her research is on habitat use of migratory shorebirds in Darwin Harbour and how Government can manage the coastal environment for shorebirds. Amanda’s research has allowed her to build local networks and collaborate with other scientists. Her most recent success was discovering 15 species of polychaete marine worms that are new to science, with collaborator Dr Chris Glasby. She shares her exciting findings and updates on her research through regular appearances in newspapers and on local radio.
Amanda organised the Australasian Shorebird Conference in Darwin in 2014 and has been on the committee of the Australasian Wader Studies Group since 2014. She also acts as a liaison officer between the local NT Field Naturalists’ Club and national organisation BirdLife Australia. She is a co-founder of the postgraduate student society at Charles Darwin University and is active in the community through local clubs and organisations. She leads community engagement events and believes that engaging with the public can help with a lot of environment and biodiversity issues.
Amanda completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Newcastle in NSW before moving to tropical Darwin to do her honours research on shorebirds, where she then decided to stay to start her PhD. She is well on her way to a career in research with a number of papers and reports published, and more to go as she completes her PhD thesis.
What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful scientist?
A curious nature. Critical thinking is developed when we question things. As an ecologist I love to learn about the environment around me by asking questions and finding answers from books or experts in a particular field. Curiosity can help build connections with people and enhance collaborations.
What would you say is your most valuable personal attribute that has helped you succeed?
A strong drive and passion for my subject. Since being interested in my field I have been motivated and driven to succeed and to learn as much as I can. If you are passionate about what you do for work, it will not be work but an extension of your life. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and opportunities have come my way because of my driven personality.
Who and/or what inspires you to achieve?
I have a lot of mentors that I look up to. These people all work in various ecological positions and have valuable knowledge to pass on to young and budding scientists. They have gone through university and have worked in academia so they know what advice to pass on and know when to praise others for their work.
What inspired you to science? Have you always liked science? What do you love most about science?
I didn’t study science in high school; instead I focussed on drama and art. It was only after leaving high school and working in a job with scientists that I discovered how interesting a career in science could be. I was inspired by my colleagues to start university and train in the sciences. It was a huge learning curve given I didn’t have the appropriate background, but I adapted and enjoyed my experience at university. I love that in the sciences you are essentially a detective trying to uncover a mystery. You never stop learning and piecing together ideas and stories.
Exercise is a big part of my life as it helps to clear the brain after a long day of work. It’s the perfect release if you’re stressed or feeling down and is even better if you train with a team or a friend. Making time for exercise will improve your productivity at work.
[Image attribution: Jordan Raymond-Munro]