The Powerful Pathways of Science
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The Powerful Pathways of Science

“The Scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.”- Henri Poincaré

Science is not a subject reserved for the elite. Every single one of us – from the artist, to the entrepreneur, to the linguist, to the sportsman, to the medic and beyond – must be able to think scientifically, and have some understanding of science to get through our daily lives.

Every day we face decisions that rest entirely on science, and even for those that don’t rely on objective fact, science remains the proven best method for acquiring accurate information about the world.

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Pic: University of Queensland

As Jared Diamond pointed out in the May 1997 issue of Discover, some of us will end up as policymakers in government or business, and those of us that do will, “make decisions that fundamentally affect the well-being of everyone, and most of them know no more about science than does the general public.

“Yet they are called upon to decide what to do about…nuclear reactors, global warming, environmental toxins, expensive space programs, biomedical research, and applications of biotechnology.

“It’s nonscientists, not scientists, who have the last word on whether the milk we drink can safely come from cows treated with growth hormones. To make such decisions wisely, the decision makers have to be drawn from a scientifically educated public.”

Throughout history, advances in the realm of science have shaped the world as we know it, and choosing to study any field of science can open a world of adventure and opportunity. Here are three notable science graduates, old and new, whose contribution to science paved a path to their success, and continues to influence our global understanding:

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Student geochemical analysis. Pic: University of Melbourne

Albert Ernest Kitson, Geologist/Naturalist

Sir Albert Ernest Kitson was a highly regarded British/Australian geologist/naturalist. In 1876, Sir Kitson and his family emigrated from England to Victoria, Australia, and so began his pursuit of a career in geology.

In 1886, Kitson joined Victoria’s Public Service and worked as a clerk. Throughout his employment he also carried out geological fieldwork. This sparked his passion and he eventually committed to a course of study at the University of Melbourne.

By 1903, Kitson had advanced to second-in-command of the Geological Survey of Victoria, of which he soon became Senior Geologist, and then Acting Director. He made a great contribution to studies on the mineral resources of Victoria and the Glacial beds of Tasmania.

In 1927, Sir Kitson was awarded the Lyell Medal, a prestigious annual scientific medal given by the Geological Society of London, awarded on the basis of research to an Earth Scientist of exceptional quality.

A degree in science, or perhaps a specialism such as geoscience from an institution like the University of Melbourne could be the key to a career like Kitson’s. Previous graduates of this field have enjoyed successful careers in research, environmental consultancy, conservation, geological surveying and government institutions.

Michael Aaron Nielsen, Quantum Physicist

Michael Aaron Nielsen is an Australian quantum physicist and science writer currently living in Toronto, Canada.

In 2004, Nielsen was identified as Australia’s “youngest academic” and secured a five-year Federation Fellowship of $235,000 per annum from the University of Queensland. He is also co-author of the popular textbook Quantum Computing with fellow academic Isaac Chuang.

In 2007, Nielsen announced he was making a change in his major field of research, from quantum information and computation to “the development of new tools for scientific collaboration and publication”. This work involves “massively collaborative mathematics” projects such as the Polymath Project.

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Michael Nielsen – Open science now! TED Talk. Pic: TED.com

Besides writing books and essays, Nielsen also gives talks about Open Science; a movement to make scientific data, research and dissemination accessible to people of all ages and ability.

A University such as Queensland can be the perfect helping hand for students looking to explore new and revolutionary areas of science and can help equip students with attributes that will be respected anywhere in the world, such as conceptual understanding, mathematical skill, problem solving and analysis.

Mike Tymko, Health Scientist

Mike Tymko was studying for his Bachelor of Science with a Major in Health Science at Mount Royal University when he was invited on the adventure of a lifetime.

Acting as Research Assistant to Mount Royal University’s Associate Professor of Physiology, Trevor Day, Tymko formed part of an international team that travelled to the Ev-K2-CNR Pyramid International Laboratory in Nepal.

He says: “Early on in the semester I actually approached [my teacher] and I asked them, ‘What kind of research are you interested in?’, and he asked if it was possible I could build a Supine Bike. With a regular exercise bike you sit upright, but he wanted one where you’re laying flat.”

Professor Day, Tymko and their team journeyed across the world to a lab located at 5050 metres above sea level, close to the Mount Everest basecamp. Here, they investigated the impact of high altitude hypoxia on the physiology of the heart, lungs and brain during rest, exercise and sleep.

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Dr. Trevor Day and Mike Tymko. Pic: Mount Royal University

Tymko added, “It took me about three weeks to finish [the bike]…it’s not perfect, but we got baseline data with it fine, it’s going to make the trip and it’s indestructible, basically!”

If you are interested in science, no matter what field, dedicating yourself to a course at a prestigious university could be the catalyst for a lifetime of success. The demand for skilled scientists extends across the globe and means anyone with a science degree is highly valued by employers. Whatever your interest, committing to a course of higher study will broaden your knowledge and your horizon of opportunity.

Read on to learn more about some of the world’s leading science schools…

 FACULTY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND – AUSTRALIA

The University of Queensland (UQ), located in Brisbane, is one of Australia’s largest and most well established universities. UQ is ranked among the world’s top 50 universities and is one of only three Australian members of Universitas 21, a leading network of research universities for the 21st century. UQ’s Faculty of Science offers students one of the widest choices of science disciplines in Australia. It provides a broad range of programs, including Veterinary and Biological Sciences. The Faculty is ranked in the world’s top 20 universities for Environmental Sciences, Agriculture and Forestry, and has been commended for excellence in two critical measures of science research by the prestigious Nature index. Read full profile…

FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, MOUNT ROYAL UNIVERSITY – CANADA

When Mount Royal University first opened its doors more than 100 years ago – in September, 1911 – it welcomed 179 students. Today, some 12,000 credit students take a variety of programs and courses including Bachelor’s degrees, diplomas and certificates. The Faculty of Science & Technology at Mount Royal University is renowned for its research and teaching excellence. The Faculty of Science & Technology allows you to prepare for a variety of exciting careers in science and technology by not only teaching you the basics of science, but also how to be a flexible and innovative problem-solver. Choose your path – degree, applied degree, university transfer, diploma or certificate program – and then choose your field. Read full profile…

FACULTY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE – AUSTRALIA

The University of Melbourne is proud of its position as a leading international university and values its many relationships with top institutions, government bodies, research and industry organisations. For over 100 years, the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne has been internationally recognised for its role in expanding the frontiers of knowledge for the betterment of society. Comprising seven schools, the Faculty offers a range of undergraduate, honours, graduate and research degrees; enrolling over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The University also provides community services and industry partnerships based on a solid foundation of research in the pure, and applied sciences. Read the full profile…

COLLEGE OF STEM, YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY – USA

Youngstown State University, an urban research university, emphasizes a creative, integrated approach to education, scholarship, and service. The University places students at its center; leads in the discovery, dissemination, and application of knowledge; advances civic, scientific, and technological development; and fosters collaboration to enrich the region and the world. YSU’s College of STEM (STEM) was founded in July 2007, and remains Ohio’s First and Only STEM College. The STEM College is committed to providing programs of excellence in engineering, technology, physical and biological sciences, computer and information sciences, and mathematics. The mission of the STEM College is to deliver integrated programs of excellence to an engaged learning community.

COLLEGE OF NATURAL SCIENCES, SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY – KOREA

The mission of Seoul National University in the twenty-first century is to create a vibrant intellectual community where students and scholars join together in building the future. As Korea’s leading research university, Seoul National University is committed to diversifying its student body and faculty, fostering global exchange, and promoting path-breaking research in all fields of knowledge. The College of Natural Sciences assumes full charge of basic science education of schools such as College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Education, and College of Pharmacy. With ground-breaking research, College of Natural Sciences nurtures students to become leading scientists as they learn critical thinking and scientific analysis ability.

FACULTY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF BATH – UK

The University of Bath received its Royal Charter in 1966 and is now firmly established as a top ten UK university with a reputation for research and teaching excellence. The campus, overlooking the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath, has a vibrant research culture driven by the enthusiasm and invention of our academic community. The Faculty of Science compromises seven departments: Biology and Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematical Sciences, Natural Sciences, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and Physics. Its undergraduate programmes receive consistently excellent results for learning and teaching, as measured by the National Student Survey and Graduate Destinations statistics.