Research area: Mechanical recycling of plastics: associated issues and methods for reducing secondary pollution from the plastic recycling process.
Why did you choose to study your degree?
After finishing my undergraduate degree in environmental engineering, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I decided to do a couple years of travel to decide what I really wanted to do. I had tried consultancy work before, and it was difficult to find the right field of work that I would feel satisfaction in. That’s when I remember my supervisor in my final year of my undergraduate mentioning the pathway to doing a PhD and I thought why not give that a go. I loved my time during my undergraduate degree and also love working out environmental problems, so I thought that this was the perfect option.
What have you enjoyed most about it so far?
I enjoy the freedom that doing a PhD gives you and the fact that every day you could be doing something different. Some days you could be in the lab doing some sort of analysis, or you might get given the opportunity to teach undergraduates. Other days you might be writing a manuscript for a journal based on something you have discovered. Every day is different and incredibly flexible. You have three-four years to complete the PhD and you are the one who is responsible for getting it done. Some days you might not be feeling it, so you just go to the beach and relax. There’s no timetable for the PhD, just an end date and for me that flexibility is why I love it so much.
Why is that area of study important to you?
Plastic pollution is something that you see every day, whether it’s at the beach or if you go for a bush walk, you are bound to find it. Recycling plastics is one of the keys to reducing plastic pollution yet because the process is only 20-30 years old there’s going to be some significant issues that still exist in the process. My goal was to try and find some of these issues and provide solutions so that the process can be refined and perfected.
Have you had any practical learning experiences?
During my time doing my PhD I have been lucky enough to do some part time work with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation working on waste and sustainability projects within our region. I have been able to take the learnings that I have gained from my PhD project out into the industry and also vice versa. I think it’s important to not only get the academic knowledge but also be able to apply it into an industry setting.
At the end of your degree, what do you hope to achieve?
By the end of my degree I hope to have gained significant insights into my chosen area of research and that the findings can be used within the industry to prompt change and current practice.
Why did you choose the School of Civil, Mining, Environmental and Architectural Engineering (CMEA) for higher degree research?
I completed my undergraduate degree at UOW in Environmental Engineering. I love the environment and also finding solutions to problems, so continuing within the school of CMEA for my higher degree research was an obvious choice.
What is the goal of your research?
The overall aim of my thesis is to highlight issues that are occurring within the plastic recycling industry that are currently being overlooked and also to provide potential solutions to these problems in the hopes to improve the current system.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience with CMEA?
CMEA is big enough to matter, small enough to care. It has a lot to give. Throughout my PhD, if I needed help there was someone that was always happy to give it. You get to know everyone quite quickly and having that sense of community when doing your PhD is always handy.
What do you like most about the UOW campus?
What’s not to like. The campus is so green that it makes you relaxed just being here. It’s much better than the concrete jungles that one may encounter in the bigger cities.
Why did you choose to study here?
I grew up on the south coast of NSW so coming to Wollongong for University was the natural choice. It’s a city that has enough to give and is located in a beautiful setting. I made many connections during my undergraduate degree that it made sense to continue on at UOW for my PhD.