Welcome to Pitch Your PhD – Shownotes

Season 1, Episode 3

NORMS with Amy MacIntosh

Dr Catherine Ball talked with Amy MacIntosh, PhD candidate from Macquarie University, on her collaboration research project with Australian Nuclear  Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) on the impact of normally occurs radioactive materials (NORMS) on Australian marine fauna.

I think it’s world-class research and high impact… Australia is the first country to really look into the impacts (of petroleum-related radioactive materials) on animals.

There’s been heaps of studies done on what are the impacts on the seawater and human health, but for animals it’s very limited.

On this week’s episode, Dr Catherine Ball had an in depth talk with Amy MacIntosh on the effect of radioactive materials from human activity on the Australian fauna. From wombats to the prawns, Amy is determined to use her PhD research to save, not only Australian animals, but all kinds of animals worldwide…

This is a “kind of, sort of, vaguely close” copy of the words from this episode.

IT IS NOT 100% accurate.  We are very sorry if we have spelt something completely incorrectly.  If it means a lot to you to have it corrected, email us at mel@ramaley.media

PYP s1e3  Amy MacIntosh interview

Catherine: [00:00:00] Hi and welcome to pitch your PhD in this podcast, you will hear from PhD students past and present to inspire the future. I’m your host, Dr. Catherine Ball. Listeners. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? It’s a question that we often get asked as a child. I have a few very vivid memories of being around five or six and watching the news about the Ethiopian famine in Africa, and then live aid. And I really wanted to get involved. I wanted to help. And So since then I knew I wanted to save the world No delusions of grandeur. and I have tried to bring about a change into this world in the ways that I can. So my guest today also discovered her life purpose quite early in life. She knew that no matter where life was going to take her, she wanted to be working with animals, directly and indirectly.

[00:00:45] Today, I am speaking with Amy Macintosh, a global citizen an animal lover and a PhD candidate at Macquarie university, working in partnership with ANSTO, which is the Australian nuclear science and technology organization. Born in Bonnie [00:01:00] Scotland and then moving to New Zealand. Amy was always surrounded by her pets and following her love of animals, she took zoology major at the University of Otago in New Zealand. After spending six months in the UK to finish her undergraduate degree, Amy decided to do her honors project in Hobart, Tasmania. She was studying the effect of mine waste on wombats. when she came across a very important and largely overlooked discovery.

[00:01:22] She discovered the large, yet under reported effect of nuclear waste on local wildlife. After a mine had been abandoned. This work led her directly into her PhD study, which started just this year. So you’re fresh off the boat or fresh on the boat, Amy. Amy was invited ANSTO to move to Sydney and work in collaboration with them to research the eco toxicology and radiological effects on Australian Marine fauna from decommissioned oil rigs and under sea infrastructure.


[00:01:50]So tell me about your work with wombats. Cause I love this from the amazing factoids about wombat

[00:01:54] Amy: [00:01:54] so the wombat study that I did was, a lot of people don’t really know is. [00:02:00] That Tasmania has a lot of kind of legacy historical waste from mines. And one of these sites,  was being rehabilitated, by the Tasmanian government. And they wanted to see, the impacts on wombats that, were actually, kind of settling into the tailings or the waste  by burrowing holes and they were making like little tunnels.

[00:02:20] Um, so they’re actually concerned about the risk, which was actually a good thing and that we’re looking into. And so I was looking at, if there’s any transfer to the wombats of kind of like copper, lead, mercury, um, but also looking at the grasses because wombats eat a ton of grass, just like koalas have to keep eating eucalyptus leaves.

[00:02:40] And so I looked at the grasses as well, and then also looking at water sources and kind of the interactions between the wombats and the site.

[00:02:48]So I set up camera traps and we got lucky. We got like three cameras set up and then we got some,wombats that it’d be spotted like, yes, we’re going to do this.

[00:02:57] And then I caught my first wild wombat, with the [00:03:00] assistance of my supervisors.

[00:03:01] Catherine: [00:03:01] How does one catch a wombat?

[00:03:03] Amy: [00:03:03] Oh, you have to set up this big cage. You have to put some sort of bait in it. So we put sweet potato because apparently, they loves sweet potato and put little carrots and you wait, but the thing is waiting from 11 o’clock at night, like three o’clock in the morning.

[00:03:16] Catherine: [00:03:16] That’s wombat watch

[00:03:17] Amy: [00:03:17] Freezing cold temperatures in Tazzy as well. And you don’t know because you can’t hear anything. So you have to keep going out, bring a torch. but when they do get trapped, you have to be very quiet because they can easily be very agitated. Because they’re big balls of just like, almost like they’re very tough.

[00:03:36]but how we handled it, like the one that we got was quite tame.  so when we lifted up the cage, you have to like just quickly pounce on it and then you have to just kind of like, make sure it’s calm. So almost like strocking a cat, making sure it’s okay. And it was munching away. And then you quickly just cut a little bit of hair.

[00:03:53] And then you just release it and it should just waddle off or run for his life. Cause they can run like 60 kilometers an [00:04:00] hour. I’m like

[00:04:01] Catherine: [00:04:01] I that everything in Australia is trying to kill you, including wombats.

[00:04:04] pretty if wombat is aggressive enough. It could probably kill you.

[00:04:07] Amy: [00:04:07] They have big teeth as well. And then when people get hit well when wombats get hit by cars can make huge dents in the car. And the one wombat just walks off just like nothing happened.

Master to PhD

 [00:04:19] Catherine: [00:04:19] Tell us a bit about your journey from finishing your master’s and then starting this novel area of research that’s been really understudied

[00:04:26] Amy: [00:04:26] mm. So way back, like two years ago when I was in Tazzy, I think it was like three, four months in, I hadn’t even started my research project and I had an idea of, just going out and seeing what my study site was like.

[00:04:40] And then I got some results that there was uranium and I’m like, Whoa, this is interesting. And then I did some more research. I’m like, okay, there’s not much out there. I’m like understanding the effects of radioactivity to different animals in Australia.

[00:04:54]And then I was just like, Oh, I wonder if there’s any place that has that, looked up [00:05:00] ANSTO.

[00:05:00] I fell in love and I contacted a research scientist there being like, Hey, I’ve just done my honors. I’m really curious. Do you have any projects, um, about going down that PhD line? And he’s like, actually I’ve been looking for a student for the past two years and I’m like, yeah, Oh, okay. What do I have to do?

[00:05:18] What do I need to like, no, and he just sent me the whole debrief about it and I had to make up a research proposal

[00:05:26]and I’m just like, okay, it seems I’m doing this. but unfortunately, because Macquarie uni, you actually need a masters to do a PhD because I know a lot of other universities have that pathway of going from honors to PhD.

[00:05:39] But Macquarie is like, you need the master’s. So, unfortunately I had to do another thesis last year, worth it in the end. And then now it’s PhD. So it was like a bundle almost that you do the master’s and PhD.

[00:05:51]Catherine: [00:05:51] It’s true that sometimes people fall over PhDs, It was just by having the right connections or picking up that phone and calling that research scientist. So if someone was listening to this thinking, Oh my [00:06:00] gosh, this is just me.

[00:06:00] I am so passionate about this project that I remember reading about, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Partnership with ANSTO

[00:06:05] So Amy, your partnership between ANSTO and Macquarie university for your PhD. Tell me, what is it like working, not only with the university, but also in really close collaboration with an industry partner?

[00:06:16] Amy: [00:06:16] I think it’s amazing. You get the best of both worlds. you get to work in a government kind of facility, Um, but from university, I think it’s also important to have that student community being surrounded by young people where you can have a laugh and socialize. So that’s great.

[00:06:33] Catherine: [00:06:33] So in terms of how much influence does ANSTO have on your PhD process?

[00:06:37] Is it more just that it’s the topic that you work with them on or are they actually involved in the sort of ongoing process of the PhD?

[00:06:43]Amy: [00:06:43] I think it was kind of

[00:06:43] both, but mainly it’s the topic cause I’m dealing with radioactive material and that’s kind of the only place really in Australia where I can actually do experiments and also have the specialties. So the scientists that know what I’m doing and how they can help me.

[00:06:56]Catherine: [00:06:56] So what’s your thesis about, in a nutshell? Because  people might be listening to [00:07:00] this and thinking, hang on a second, radioactive waste Australia. We don’t have a nuclear industry. Why would we even have such a thing as radioactive waste affecting our Marine fauna?

[00:07:09] Amy: [00:07:09] I think, firstly, I want to just point out that it’s actually naturally occurring. So it’s always there beneath the Earth’s crust. It’s only when you’ve got the oil and gas processes that bring it up to the surface and it actually goes beyond what’s normal or background and above this background level there’s potential effects on to the animals, the surrounding environment as well.

[00:07:30]Catherine: [00:07:30] So globally, what is the research in this field? Is this something that people haven’t really cared about because nothing’s been decommissioned yet or it’s so far off shore that no one really cares about it because it’s naturally occurring.

[00:07:40] There’s not much they can do about it. What are the factors that have led to your research really being cutting edge?

[00:07:44]Amy: [00:07:44] I think it’s cause it’s like world-class research it’s really high impact. So because Australia is like the first country to really look into the impacts on animals. Um, there’s been heaps of studies done on, what’s the impacts on the seawater or [00:08:00] human health reasons as well. And, but for particularly animals, it’s very limited.

[00:08:04]Catherine: [00:08:04] So, what we’re talking about here are called NORMS. Can you tell us a bit about

[00:08:07] NORMS?,

[00:08:08] Amy: [00:08:08] NORMS? Well, NORM stands for the Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material and norms is basically all the radionuclides. So kind of the radioactive elements within the crust of the earth.

[00:08:21] And they’re brought up, but the main ones that seem to be kind of associated with Oil and  gas include radium 226, the radioactive polonium, radioactive lead. And these are the three main ones. And I’m particularly looking at, and I’m interested in as well, cause there’s not much research done on them.

[00:08:40]Catherine: [00:08:40] So are these leaking out of the pipelines and the infrastructure that is sat there just naturally? Or are they being disrupted by decommissioning activities. Why is it suddenly something that’s of interest to ANSTO?

[00:08:49]Amy: [00:08:49] I think it’s because it’s unpredictable or no one knows because it’s deep sea, like you can’t just go down there a scuba diver and just be like, Oh, Hey, there’s actually quite a bit of radioactive material here. Because  the [00:09:00] equipment’s not there and it’s not developed to actually recognize that it’s down there, but understanding what the effects are in an experimental setting, in a lab, can actually help to say what could actually happen in a natural environment.

[00:09:13]Catherine: [00:09:13] So how could these NORMs affect society? How could they affect me living my life?

[00:09:17] Amy: [00:09:17] If the NORMs actually get transferred up from, let’s say a prawn, that’s just swimming nearby a pipe and then a fish comes along, maybe a snapper or a tuna.

[00:09:27] And then that gets transferred up, gets into a nice little seafood market and you may eat it, but the dose will be small. So there’ll be a low risk. But if it’s accumulated over time and you keep eating that, there is potential for that to happen.

[00:09:42]Catherine: [00:09:42] Bioaccumulation

[00:09:44] yes. Up the food chain. So what is your actual thesis title? What aspect are you particularly studying, around the NORMs?

[00:09:50] Amy: [00:09:50] I don’t really have a thesis title at the moment.

[00:09:53]Catherine: [00:09:53] Let’s make one out. What would you like it to be called?

[00:09:55]Amy: [00:09:55] I would call it a Chernobyl under the sea. I quite like that.

[00:09:59] Catherine: [00:09:59] that. would [00:10:00] certainly get headlines,

[00:10:02] Amy: [00:10:02] yup. That will make everyone panic. I think for PhD, like you adapt or you come up with new things. So I’m actually going a little bit more into geochemistry at the moment. So understanding more of the, kind of the shape and also the structure of the norms within a pipeline, looking at where it comes from, how it forms. And then also looking at the animal side.

[00:10:27] But then also just thinking of it as a overall, like, what does this actually mean and how can this inform Australia about this issue.

From Wombats to NORMS

[00:10:34]Catherine: [00:10:34] The passion and the study where you’re coming from in regard to the NORMS work is a  wonderful pathway from wombat watch and wombat jumping and taking samples of wombat hair from mine rehab sites all the way through now to working with eco toxicology around some of these novel infrastructure pieces that we have from the oil and gas industry.

[00:10:52] So did you go out and seek out this kind of research or is it something that you found has been more of an accident of choice? how [00:11:00] have you set this for yourself?

[00:11:01] Amy: [00:11:01] It’s just been very accidental.

[00:11:03] Like I had a goal. I would have liked to have worked with polar bears or work with animals directly. And then when I just came across little things, it would always just change my path or go up a roller coaster and down all the time. And I think one part of my brain where the little analytical Amy’s like, Oh, I think you should try this, but it will be good for you.

[00:11:24] And then see what happens at the end. Don’t go. I think that’s what people get caught up in his PhD to have this straight path that you have to get to a certain end point. And I’m just like, if it comes up, I might as well do it. I only have one life. What’s the worst that could happen.

[00:11:39] Catherine: [00:11:39] What’s the worst that could happen. you’re quite serendipitous in terms of the opportunities that cross path. I think that’s what I’m picking up.

[00:11:45]So of all the work that you’ve done around the world, what led you to a PhD?

[00:11:48] Amy: [00:11:48] I don’t know, I had a little bit of me was I wanted to beat my uncle, so my uncle had a master’s degree. So he has a master’s degree in public health and I’m like, I want to do better.

[00:11:57] I want to be the first person in my family to get a [00:12:00] PhD, make my family proud, but going into it and the kind of like nuclear sciences, I’m like, how did I end up here? And also, because I got interested with the mine waste, I’m like, Ooh, I can’t see it. Am I getting a dose? Oh, Chernobyl. I have to do something about this.

[00:12:16] And then I didn’t realize the decommissioning of oil and gas structures. So it was a big

[00:12:20] learning curve.

[00:12:21]Catherine: [00:12:21] So when did you first hear about Chernobyl and radioactive waste and health issues?

[00:12:26] Amy: [00:12:26] Ah, I think it was actually through my parents or I think it was at the museums. And then I was finding about like the history of nuclear . Waste, and fallout accidents, in the UK, because you probably know about the dispersal of them going back to the UK,

[00:12:41] affecting

[00:12:42] the

[00:12:42] people

[00:12:42] Catherine: [00:12:42] And we had radioactive sheep in Wales. If I remember rightly.

[00:12:45] Amy: [00:12:45] Yes. And then go through the milk as well,

[00:12:49] Catherine: [00:12:49] Crumbs. So from radioactive sheep in the Hills of the UK through to radioactive pipelines in the deep subsurface off of Australia, what kind of pathways for public information do you think your [00:13:00] research and your PhD thesis is going to bring, is this the start of a conversation the start of a new level of research or is this something that will finish with your particular thesis

[00:13:08] Amy: [00:13:08] Oh, it’s going to keep going. Like the thing about radioactive material, it’s going to be there for a very long time and people can just pick up where I left off pretty much or if I’m really into it I’ll just continue doing it.

[00:13:20]Catherine: [00:13:20] So, let’s have a little deep dive into what it is you’ve been planning and doing. When you look at something that’s as large and as complex as mother earth and the way these pipelines are reacting and the ecosystem that you’re sitting within, the food webs, you’re looking at the bioaccumulation all of these different things.

[00:13:36] How do you even start to answer this question? How did you break it down? And where did you start with this research?

[00:13:42]Amy: [00:13:42] So last year I did my master’s degree. And because of COVID I can not do any lab work. So I had to resort to reading the literature, reading what’s out there about this topic. And surprisingly, there was not much.

[00:13:56] And so there were many research gaps and by pinpointing [00:14:00] those, I’m like, Oh, I can do this and this and this and this. So it took me like 10 months to really figure out what things I wanted to do.

[00:14:07]but I started off really small, so I just wanted to see what, would happened if an animal ingested  the norm.

[00:14:14] So it’s an a matrix or like a rock, the middle rock and called scale. so it’s kinda like the material get when you boil your kettle and there’s like that residue, but this stuff is like a crystal almost, and it’s really pretty as well, but unfortunately it is radioactive.

[00:14:31] I just wanted to see what would actually happen to, an animal. Like, can they take it up into their bodies? So it cannot pass and  the liver let’s say have a prawn, and be ingested. And if it lives, if it dies and then just move on from there, like what does it mean for future experiments?

[00:14:48] Catherine: [00:14:48] So what’s the next stage now, after that initial study

[00:14:51]Amy: [00:14:51] Yeah, I got some surprising results. Um, unfortunately I can’t say them because of inconfidence

[00:14:56] Catherine: [00:14:56] Secret squirrel

[00:14:57] Amy: [00:14:57] yes.

[00:14:58] Catherine: [00:14:58] You’ve some surprising results. Well, that’s [00:15:00] always good, but can also be disruptive. So how do you tackle surprises in your thesis preparation,

[00:15:05] Amy: [00:15:05] I think just brainstorming or just figuring it out what either went wrong or what went well? What do these results mean in relation to other studies?

[00:15:14] But because there’s no other studies, I can’t really relate to anything. So I have to make many assumptions and hypotheses about it. So there’s a lot of like brain power trying to figure out what is actually going on.

when you finish [00:15:28] Catherine: [00:15:28] So when you finish your research in the next couple of years and you figure out what’s happening? Whatever secret wonderful result is that I am waiting

[00:15:36] in your published

next steps [00:15:37]

[00:15:37] What is next for you after this? Is this something where again, you’re sort throw the seeds of chance to the wind, or Are you going to work directly with ANSTO, curate yourself a bit of a postdoctoral career? Where do you see your next steps going from this PhD research?

[00:15:49] Amy: [00:15:49] I think post-doc with ANSTO as well because ANSTO have kind of recognize this project now, and they’re really trying to like build it the momentum up and also provide some [00:16:00] commercial value to it, so we can get oil and gas operators coming to ANSTO directly to say, Hey, we’ve got this scale or we’ve got these contaminants. We don’t know what to do with it.

[00:16:09] Or we don’t know what’s in it. Can you do these kind of tests? And then I’ll probably come in and being like, Oh, it’s got a bit too much radium or it’s got some high levels. Let me do some animal based studies and see what you can do from there. It’s almost like a government consultancy kind of pathway almost.

[00:16:29]Catherine: [00:16:29] Do you think there’s legal ramifications from your research?

[00:16:31]Amy: [00:16:31] Yes, absolutely.

[00:16:33] Catherine: [00:16:33] Walk us . Through what you think, might happen.

[00:16:34]Amy: [00:16:34] I mean, it’ll be a long process probably when I’m 50 years old and probably something actually done about it. But I think when we’ve talked to people,  it’s slowly making its way up to higher up people like NERA, so the National Energy Resources are aware. I’m not SEMA. So they’re the actual offshore regulator, authority people. and there’s actually an yeah. National decommissioning initiative center, which has like [00:17:00] all the research is being done, even though it’s all desktop. So a lot of versions reading and writing and thinking.

[00:17:06]But when I’m put doing actually the lab based, the physical staff and contributing to that, hopefully by the end of my post-doc or near future, there should be some policies made, for the future as well.

wider meaning

[00:17:17]Catherine: [00:17:17] People who listening to this might be very familiar with the rigs to reef program.

[00:17:22] So interesting to think that a lot of oil and gas companies not having to spend a lot of money decommissioning and lifting heavy really have, because when you sink a rig.

[00:17:29] I mean, it’s, the concrete the weight just rediculous, right? How would you even get that out without blowing it up? Quite frankly, how would you get

[00:17:37] it out?

[00:17:37] And now you discovered that it’s got all these norms, all these naturally occurring radioactive materials. Is this another reason to leave things in and not disturb them?

[00:17:45] Or is this another reason to actually start pressuring oil and gas companies to decommission, even very old assets that when they got their approvals to put them in actually had no decommissioning requirements?

[00:17:54] Amy: [00:17:54] Yes, that’s exactly it. And I think that’s the problem is that a lot of them are unaware [00:18:00] or they’re trying to like reduce the costs.

[00:18:02] They’re trying to just brush it off like, like almost like a bandaid, like, Oh, we’ve got this on the ocean or we’ll just leave it there. It’ll be fine. But as actually having the science behind why they’re leaving it in the ocean or why they have to take out is extremely important, especially in Australia,

[00:18:19] Catherine: [00:18:19] you think about all of the oil and gas infrastructure around the world.

[00:18:21] Do you see that your research for example, is now going to cause other nations to start looking at some of their norms and their oil and gas infrastructure? Or is this something that is unique to Australia?

[00:18:33]Amy: [00:18:33] I think a bit of both, because it’s unique to Australia in the sense that it’s Australian Marine life I’m working with.

[00:18:39] So the species that are found here and also the kind of Marine environment in Australia. However,  we’ve been talking to people overseas in Norway and the UK, and also in the U S and Mexico. Like they know that this project is going and we’ve got other operators and big multinational companies who know what’s going on.

[00:18:58] So I think the momentum will pick up [00:19:00] over the next year or so on the global scale… no pun intended.

[00:19:08] Catherine: [00:19:08] Working. I remember when I did my PhD, there were those of us that had pure grants. And then those that had grants with an industry collaborate. They’ve got a bit more money. Actually, They’ve got a bit more money and they’ve got their, basically their hands on a job. As soon as they finish their PhD. And We know that 95% of PhD students do not stay in academia.

[00:19:24] Do you see your future in that research space? Or do you see you maybe even working for industry.

[00:19:29] Amy: [00:19:29] I quite like to work for industry. I feel like the benefits are like. Quite big with industry, especially when you become so specialized. Now that I’m becoming like uh ecotoxin and the radiological kind of field.  And there’ll be a high demand, I think for not only myself, but my supervisor and our small three person team.

[00:19:49]So there’ll be a high demand. And so it’s being able to be like, Oh, sorry, I don’t want this position or maybe consider someone else. But I would love to teach, like I want to be a lecture, but [00:20:00] because of COVID, I don’t think it’s the right path for me at the moment, until it becomes a livable.

[00:20:05]Catherine: [00:20:05] You give it a couple of years, get your PhD under your belt. So you obviously seem completely enthused and passionate about your research topics.

Hardest Part of PhD

[00:20:12]So what’s the hardest part of, of your PhD at the moment for you? What’s the bit which is really pushing your learning buttons.

[00:20:18] Amy: [00:20:18] My learning buttons, surprisingly, not a lot.

[00:20:21]Cause I actually enjoy the PhD process compared to some, or I know people have their low moments or things go wrong, experiments, go wrong.

[00:20:30]But for me, I just think it is just like a little learning curve. Like how can I get over this little barrier? But with PhD, I think it’s just communication between supervisors, universities, outside organizations. There’s no communication between them all. And it takes forever to get things approved and signed, and I’m just twiddling my thumbs waiting for an email.

[00:20:51] And then I get it. I’m like, Oh, I can have a drink. It’s so sad.

PhD Rewards

[00:20:57] Catherine: [00:20:57] What’s the most rewarding part of what you’re doing then. it’s obviously you’ve got the [00:21:00] mental Headspace that any problem is just a learning curve learnt and beaten. So what’s the bit that’s actually really getting your energy flowing around this research.

[00:21:09] Amy: [00:21:09] I think it’s just knowing the unknown, like. What’s actually happening in the lab. Like if I leave animals in the lab overnight, I’m always thinking about it or I’m dreaming about it. I mean, it’s pretty bad for mental health. You’re dreaming about your science,

[00:21:22] Catherine: [00:21:22] No, that’s typical. That’s It’s typical.

[00:21:26] Amy: [00:21:26] It’s baby prawns. And you’re just like dreaming. You’re like, Oh, what could possibly go wrong? Um, but I think it’s just  not knowing what’s going to happen. And there’s always something new that I can learn each day, whether it’s a type of method in the lab, if it’s a new field work assignment, like, cause on Thursday, I’m actually going out to collect sand. And I’m pretty excited about that. Just getting buckets of sand from cronulla, and it’s a good day out.

[00:21:52]Catherine: [00:21:52] it seems that you and research are like  strawberries and cream, something that comes very naturally to you.

[00:21:57] So you mentioned you had this uncle that had done a master’s

[00:22:00] [00:22:00] Who else family  has been like an inspiration to you to get to where you are right now with your PhD?

[00:22:05]Amy: [00:22:05] Honest, not many of my family members have contributed. I think it was more of a, kind of like go up and beyond. Above everyone else like what can I use with my quirky personality and my determination?

[00:22:19]But David Attenborough a hundred percent was my role model since a young child. And still to this day, he still is there.

[00:22:28] Catherine: [00:22:28] The third parent to a lot of us isn’t he?, especially of us that have any connections to the UK.  And you’ve got your uncle that did his master’s thesis, but who else is sitting there? You know, it was a big support or an inspiration to you around getting involved in your PhD.

[00:22:40] Amy: [00:22:40] I think everyone, everyone around me, everyone that I talked to contributes in some way, whether they know it or if they don’t know it. It’s just being surrounded by positive people or people who, may not have like the education that I got as well. And they’re generally interested in what I’m doing.

[00:22:57]Catherine: [00:22:57] So what does your PhD give you on a sort of [00:23:00] spiritual level

[00:23:00] Amy: [00:23:00] Spiritual level oh satisfaction? I think like, cause I know I’m trying to do something good for the environment and I think that’s what changed me from a person who’s like, I want to work with animals.

[00:23:11]I want to save them. But now it’s like because of climate change and then also human based activities are increasing as well, even though it might not seem it. And then also the population’s increasing. And so my mind shifted towards the impacts on the environment and an environment I am not familiar with.

[00:23:29] So in the Marine environment and having that mindset every day is like, I’m doing something good for the environment. It might be small. I can’t see it. I can’t see the problem, but I’m trying. .

[00:23:41] Catherine: [00:23:41] So if young Amy was listening to this, what would you say to her has been the biggest thing that you’ve learned over the last I’m going to say 15 years?

[00:23:48]What would you have done differently? Or what advice would you have giving yourself?

[00:23:52]Amy: [00:23:52] Young Amy was very different, just very quiet and very reserved. And I think just speak up is [00:24:00] probably like the number one thing I would say, just speak up, have your voice heard.

[00:24:05]Just show the initiative, just put yourself out there, outside the box. I was completely out of my comfort zone.

[00:24:10] I’m like, I really wanna work with polar bears and then they just came along and I’m like, Oh, maybe I don’t. And then I just went out of my comfort zone and I was like, Oh, I’ll give it a go. Like, what’s the worst  that could happen. It’s just an email or a text or phone call.

[00:24:24]Catherine: [00:24:24] As an academic myself, you know, when someone sends an email going, I’d love to work with you, or I’m really interested in this subject, it’s sort of like,

[00:24:30] yes, yes,please, of course this is wonderful. Um, and so I think, you know, if anyone is thinking about doing a PhD, then you’re already halfway there, quite frankly, they’re not something  to undertake lightly. Thank you so much for your time today, Amy. I can’t wait to see the outcomes of your research. I’ll be following you on Google scholar.

[00:24:47] Amy: [00:24:47] Thank you so much for having me to speak.

[00:24:50] Good

[00:24:50] Catherine: [00:24:50] luck with your PhD.

[00:24:51] Amy: [00:24:51] Oh, thank you.

[00:24:53]Catherine: [00:24:53] And thank you for listening to another great episode of pitch your PhD.

[00:24:58]I’m Dr. Catherine Ball, [00:25:00]

[00:25:00] I especially want to thank the great team at Ramaley media.

[00:25:03]If you’d like to speak about your PhD journey, you can reach out to us ramaley.media/pitch your PhD.

[00:25:11]Please join us next time. When we present you with another wonderful guest who will share that PhD journey past or present to help inspire the future.