Third year science student Liam Ferguson talks about his experience at uni and offers advice for new students.
Liam Ferguson first realised his passion for genetics whilst studying for the HSC at Springwood High School in the Blue Mountains. Now in his third year of a Bachelor of Science degree, Liam’s interests have gravitated towards microbiology and virology.
“I love being able to look down a microscope into a completely different world; one that is invisible, yet has a massive impact on our lives,” says Liam. “The second year ‘Microbial Life’ course really sparked my passion for the subject.”
Liam advises incoming biology students to try as many subjects at they can in first year.
“Enrol in the biology units, so you have the correct prerequisites for second year, but try different science subjects like chemistry and physics, and definitely try something outside of science, like arts, languages or history,” he says.
University is about experiencing different points of view, meeting different people and exploring avenues of learning you hadn’t considered before.
"I started out wanting to do biology, but my interests shifted and continue to shift. Don’t come into university with a rigid mindset; instead allow yourself to discover and seek the path of learning that is most interesting to you.”
Liam was impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Sydney, but it was the University’s Open Days that really encouraged him to apply for an undergraduate place. He has been a member of many University clubs and societies, including the Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble (MUSE), and recommends that all students get involved in extracurricular activities.
“My best university memories come from the things I’ve done with various clubs and societies,” explains Liam. “It’s the only way I could have met so many different people studying different courses with unique views and opinions.”
“iGEM is a synthetic biology competition, where teams from around the world compete by engineering microbes to do interesting and novel things. We then get to present our work at the Giant Jamboree in Boston, USA,” explains Liam. “Research projects are important as they force you to work independently and solve problems in a way that a structured practical course cannot. Science doesn’t always go smoothly, like you might think from the units of study.”
Liam plans to continue to honours where he hopes to “hone all of the skills learnt in his undergraduate degree”. He will decide whether he’d like to pursue a research career or use the skills learnt at University to “solve the complex problems posed in many jobs.”
Liam also hopes to integrate creativity into his career, perhaps through avenues such as science communication.
“I love to sing, act, perform and draw – I’d love to find a way to explain scientific concepts through creative means,” says Liam.
In the meantime Liam continues to be fascinated by the study of different viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists. “There’s so much diversity in their adaptations to surviving in their different environments and every day I’m learning new things.” he says.
Learn more about opportunities in honours.