D’Aguilar graduate studies science of seaweed - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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D’Aguilar graduate studies science of seaweed

9 Jun 2020

With his arms deep in a tub of locally-grown seaweed at the Bribie Island Research Centre, Steele Ford’s job is as hands-on as his recently-completed USC Bachelor of Environmental Science. And that’s just the way he likes it.

“An aspect I really enjoyed about my degree was the practical learning part,” said the recent graduate from D’Aguilar, who is now studying Honours in Science at USC.

“Many of the required courses included hands-on experience and fieldwork, which gave me confidence in my skills. A study trip to Fraser Island for my final subject was a good way to end my degree last year.”

The 21-year-old former Caboolture State High School student is now working part-time for USC, primarily at the research centre at Woorim where USC Professor of Marine Science Nicholas Paul leads applied research and development of seaweed and algae for sustainable product development.

“My work involves maintaining the growth of various seaweeds which are cultured in different-sized tubs ranging from 20 litres all the way up to 1,000 litres,” Steele said.

“The seaweeds are harvested, dried and weighed. Then the tubs are thoroughly cleaned before new seaweed is put in.

“I enjoy investigating the different seaweeds and their growth patterns. The larger objective is to research how to use seaweeds as alternatives in the agricultural sector and for food and medicinal uses.” 

Steele said he chose USC Sunshine Coast because of its relaxed setting and environment.

“I’d heard USC was more practical in its teaching and had a lot of support for environmental degrees. I’ve always had this interest and I want to take it all the way to a doctorate in the environmental science field.”

Steele’s sister also graduated this year from USC, after pursuing her passion for politics and languages.

Jayde-elle Ford, 23, also a Caboolture State High School graduate, chose USC Sunshine Coast for its language courses. She gained a Bachelor of International Studies.

“I’d love to use my degree to start a career in government or council, and the language skills I learnt will be great for travelling,” she said.

“Currently I am working casually as an intern electorate officer for a local politician. The skills I learnt in my degree from USC helped me obtain this internship.”

QTAC applications are open to study at USC in Semester 2 this year.

- Julie Schomberg

Graduate Steele Ford working with seaweed at Bribie Island

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