How to be a planet saver

Want to tackle climate change and famines? A career in science can take you there!

We live in a time where global temperatures are reaching record-breaking levels, millions of people go hungry every day and entire ecosystems are under threat. Thankfully, people with science degrees are helping to solve the world’s toughest problems, using their knowledge to create smart, renewable energy solutions and develop healthier food.

Using science to reduce emissions

From cars to electricity, the things we use every day pump enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A team of chemists at CSIRO have developed a powdered material that could help cut the harmful emissions produced by industry.

The porous, crystal-like material acts like a sponge that can soak up toxins in water and harmful gases, and store huge amounts of carbon instead of it being released into the atmosphere.

Forget superfoods, think smart foods

With more than 700 million people around the world going hungry, scientists are also exploring ways to make food more nutritious for those who need it the most. A team from UNSW Sydney are developing methods for fortifying wheat flour with more nutrients, such as iron, zinc and niacin, to help communities get the most out of their food.

A major challenge for environmental scientists is keeping track of large wildlife populations and areas of land. Bush Heritage Australia are using drones to monitor vegetation growth and fire regimens in the Gondwana Link bush corridor in Western Australia. These drones can collect data faster and more accurately than humans, making land management easier for conservationists.

– Gemma Conroy

Brendan Brown is using his science knowhow to help farmers in Africa grow food

“I took a career guidance survey in high school, and the first career that came up for me was agricultural scientist. I loved the idea of working outdoors while solving some of the world’s biggest problems, from food security to environmental sustainability.

“While I was studying agriculture and soil science at university, I got involved with social justice issues. I became aware of how my scientific skills could be used to make a positive impact. I developed a passion for helping farmers improve their livelihoods after doing work experience in Tanzania.

“There are a lot of great technologies available for smallholder farmers in Africa, but most of them never get used. Through my research, I have helped farmers and aid organisations better understand technological change so that they can grow more food and earn a better income.

“I have worked on a huge variety of projects, from improving irrigation techniques in Cambodia in Southeast Asia to beekeeping and rabbit production in Ghana in west Africa. It’s so rewarding to work with a group of people to improve the way things are done.

“With climate change and economic challenges, millions are still going hungry. We need motivated and skilled young scientists to solve these problems for good. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and draw on your skills to make the world a better place.”

Brendan’s path to becoming a planet saver

> > Bachelor of Science (Agriculture), University of Sydney

> > Research Officer, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

> > Program Officer in Agricultural Development, FAO

> > Smallholder Agricultural Innovation Specialist, University of Adelaide

“While I was studying agriculture and soil science at university, I got involved with social justice issues. I became aware of how my scientific skills could be used to make a positive impact.”

Gemma Conroy

Author: Gemma Conroy

Gemma is a freelance journalist with a passion for making science accessible to everyone. Gemma has a degree in biology from Macquarie University and loves sharing amazing discoveries with the world.

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