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What do envronmental scientists do? Meet 7 making the world a better place

Environmental scientists are helping people to understand and coexist with the land around us better than we’ve ever done before, which makes life a whole lot nicer for us and our planet!

If a sustainable future is the plan for our world, environmental scientists are the pros who are going to lead the way in knowledge, resources and collabs. From solving problems like contamination of land or water, understanding how a particular environment might be impacted by the construction of a road or railway, or helping communities get a better idea of their flood or bushfire risks, enviro scientists are the ones with the know-how to make all the diff. 

GHD is one Aussie-based, global company that works on thousands of projects every year with a big focus on water, energy, climate change and transport. Whether it’s technical work on project sites or holding down the office collecting data and assessing risks, GHD’s goal is to “create lasting community benefit” which is a pretty cool (not to mention helpful) goal to have!

Here we get to meet some of the GHD team and hear about their very fab jobs…

Meet the team

Emily Ray

Title: Market leader environment

Degree: Bachelor of Agricultural Economics (Honours)

Emily was always interested in having an environment-related job. Now, she works in the pre-plan phase for environmental projects to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Fave subject at school? “Agriculture, because it meant being outside rather than in the classroom.”

What do you love most about your job? “Working with our amazing environment teams!”

David Chubb

Title: Australian future energy leader – environment

Degree: Master of Applied Science (Environmental Management)

Over his 30 years working in the industry David has covered loads of jobs from water catchment management to contaminated land assessment and environmental approvals, so he’s a guy who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to building the teams who work on various projects. 

What do you love most about your job? “Kicking off a new project.”

Best part of being on the GHD team? “The people and that no two projects are the same.”

Pippa Fernandes

Title: Spatial analyst

Degree: Bachelor of Science (Earth Science)(Geography/Honours)

Pippa didn’t know a spatial analyst was even a job before she started uni, but once she realised how spatial data tells a story, she was hooked. Pippa gets to help people within her teams – and the wider society – understand the geographical context and impact a project might have. 

How does your job make a difference? “I help the field team plan their site visits by setting up a field mapping app so they can collect the right data.”

Cool tech you get to use? “I create field-data collection tools that teams use on their phones which is fun. My team also get to work with drones and we also create 3D models.”

Evan Milton

Title: Team leader – acoustics team

Degree: Graduate Degree in Aerospace Engineering

According to Evan noise is annoying and can even impact the health of people living close by to noisy projects or locations. It’s his job to evaluate the best ways to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

Fave part of your job? “Doing fieldwork and getting out to see the projects at the end of the job.”

Cool tech you get to use? “Sound level metres, accelerometers and acoustic cameras.”

Helen Milne

Title: Technical director – contamination assessment and remediation

Degree: Master of Environmental Analysis and Assessment

Helen liked bio and maths at school, so when it came to uni, she chose to study geology for the chance to work outdoors and get amongst the different sciences. It’s still the variety (different sites, contamination sources and environments) that she loves about her job now as a contamination lead on GHD projects. 

How does your job make a difference? “I use my training to develop an understanding of the project site and subsurface environment by collecting data to assess its history, any contamination potential and how it behaves in the environment. Contamination assessment means looking at soils, geology, hydrogeology and hydrology components.” 

Paul de Mar

Title: Technical director, natural resources and bushfire

Degree: Master of Environmental Planning

As a lover of nature, Paul had wanted to be a marine biologist before he had a stint in the Navy and gained experience in firefighting and damage control. From there he took his passion for the outdoors, and skills in fire awareness, and now helps agencies look at how to control fire risks and set up protection methods during the design stage. 

Fave part of your job? “I get to go to some of the most magnificent places in Australia. I’ve recently been to Uluru and Kakadu working on fire management with First Nations Peoples on their lands.”

Cool tech you get to use? “My favourite is the aerial incendiary machine used on aircrafts and drones to release capsules with a special chemical, into hard-to-get-to areas, to start low-intensity control burns.”

Emily Kate Marsh

Title: Environmental consultant

Degree: Master of Environmental Law

Assessment and approvals play a huge role when it comes to planning a new project, espesh in the environment sector so we need people like Emily Kate keeping an eye on things. Emily Kate wanted a role where she could combine her two fave topics – science and law. At GHD she’s hit the jackpot. How does your job make a difference? “We have people who are creative and think up brilliant ideas but without the right assessment and legal pathway, these projects can’t become reality. I determine what approvals/permits may be required and the impact a project might have on the environment and how they can be avoided.”

A version of this article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Science.

For more stories on environmental scientists, check out our Earth + Environmental Scientists Job Kit.

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