'I want to give my time to projects that benefit both the land and our society...'
Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geography with an endorsement in Environmental Science
Master of Science in Geology
Senior Environmental Scientist, E3 Scientific Ltd
Simon spent several years volunteering in Vanuatu shortly after his undergraduate studies, working as a Geotechnical Advisor to their Department of Geology, Mines and Water. His role, under the NZ Volunteer Service Abroad, and Secretariat of the Pacific Community, was to train local geologists and contribute to Vanuatu’s developing renewable energy sector.
‘Some days I travelled to volcanoes and saw huge eruptions and steaming fumaroles, some days I sat in an office and typed reports about what I’d seen. Overall I was very happy to do this work as it kept me active mentally and physically,’ he says.
The experience has hugely inspired Simon’s ongoing career goals to make an impact on sustainable environmental practices, particularly geothermal.
‘To be a successful scientist I think I need to help our society to understand our impacts on the air, land and water systems upon which we depend,’ he says. ‘I want to give my time to good projects that benefit both the land and our society.’
Having always enjoyed learning about the ‘physical world’, Simon’s studies at UC focused his skills towards becoming an earth-systems scientist. He particularly enjoyed UC’s emphasis on training ‘field-ready’ geologists.
‘UC has some high quality lecturers and facilities to make learning exciting. Cass field station is one of my favourite places, and to be there studying the amazing landscapes surrounding it was surreal!
‘The coursework and active learning environment of field trips creates a sense of what it might be like to do the work for real, and indeed when you step into a professional role you will find yourself at ease due to the training you received. When working for a copper/gold company in Western Australia I was immediately thrown into working with the rocks and identifying minerals on day one. I trusted my training and produced work immediately.’
Currently, Simon works for new company E3 Scientific, an earth, environmental and ecological sciences consultancy providing data and analysis to private and public clients. His main role is supporting the contaminated land and water management teams, but he often gets to rub shoulders with the ecologists when it comes to freshwater or marine resources.
Simon’s favourite aspect of studying the earth is how wide-ranging the field is, which means that upcoming scientists can build an interesting career looking at the different areas.
‘Working with land and water is always interesting, whether it’s altered land and boiling water in geothermal geology or fresh water and farm land in environmental science. The interaction between these two very important earth systems is so interesting because the settings are so varied and yet we depend on being able to adapt to them for our day to day living.
‘This cross pollination of fields of study means a scientist can truly find their own niche. Having scientists who are biased in their interests is important as it means there are passionate people studying the connections between different things. Combine them and you will have a fruitful life, seeking answers to cool questions about whatever you are interested in.’
In 2020, Simon was certified as an environmental practitioner by the EIANZ. This is a professional certification for budding environmental practitioners to work towards, reflecting their commitment not only to professional ethics but also sustainability and high environmental standards.
‘To be certified with a relevant qualification is a must; I am grateful that the Environmental Science programme was already in development during my time at UC. Future students studying Environmental Science should know that there are so many options out there for putting your passion into practice!’