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Living an underwater dream

From an early age, former student Jane Edgeloe (2015) wanted to become a Marine Scientist but was told by many that her chosen career field would not be employable long term and it would be a dead end.

Determined to pursue her underwater dream, Jane completed a Bachelor of Science (Marine Science and Environmental Science) and then a Masters of Marine Science at UWA. It was during her research for her Masters that she discovered the world’s largest plant, resulting in her paper being published and receiving worldwide coverage of her discovery, including being interviewed by the New York Times!

Jane claims that her determination and communication skills are what have contributed to her success so far.

“Throughout the process of transitioning from school to an undergraduate degree, master’s degree and now a PhD, I have been conscious to communicate my expectations and ask lots of questions along the way. My determination has enabled me to achieve all that I have so far, which has largely been attributed to networking and volunteering across the years,” explains Jane.

While completing her Masters, Jane studied population genomics of a seagrass species (Posidonia australis) in Shark Bay. It was this study that led Jane to discover the world’s largest plant and have her first paper published, which she considers to be her most significant achievement so far.

“To me, this is significant, not only due to the impact it has and will have on academia, but mainly due to the impact it will have on the wider community in terms of conservation and restoration of Posidonia australis in Shark Bay.”

Jane commenced a Doctor of Philosophy, specialising in Marine Biology and Genetics in early 2021.

“I am now one and a half years into my studies, where I am exploring genetic diversity, connectivity, and adaptive capacity of foundation seaweed species. My research includes a lot of travel around Australia which I love.”

Jane claims that one teacher, in particular, had the greatest impact on her while she was a student at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.

“I consider myself extremely lucky to have had Mrs Cowan as my Biology teacher. Every lesson was different, and Mrs Cowan always bought a contagious energy into the classroom. It was my favourite subject at school as she always had a hands-on approach. As students we were always completing practical tasks – this is the one aspect of her teaching which inspired me to pursue research as I was encouraged by her to ask questions and try to find answers.”

Jane plans to stay in the field of research after she completes her PhD and would like to continue researching marine flora to further understand how they are responding to climate change.

“I aim to continue being involved in restoration and conservation of marine habitats, securing them for the future generations to experience for many years to come.”


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