Audrey Miranda Pretsetya

Audrey Miranda Pretsetya

Audrey Miranda Pretsetya

  • Student type: International
  • Degree type: Degree
  • Year commenced: 2015
  • Degree(s): Bachelor of Science
  • Major(s): Ecology and conservation biology; Zoology

Why did you decide to study Science?

I’ve always loved animals – whether it was watching documentaries from when I was little to calling all kinds of animal species cute (yes, even the cockroaches and spiders). There’s this fascination towards them and since the day I know that there exists this spot to learn about them and make a living studying them, it’s a done deal.

What made you choose Monash University in particular?

My family have sort of decided that Melbourne will be a great city for me to study in as it is (quite) close to our home country and my older sister found work in the city after graduating that year. We got into a discussion with a family friend regarding best universities for science and she mentioned how that year it seems Monash University received better funding for their research, and we decided to visit the incredible Clayton campus, and made Monash our final choice.

What is your favourite aspect of studying science?

The best part about science – that can never get old – is the endless pursuit. Every day we learn something new, and the best part is there’s no end to this continuous loop of learning and science. In every scientific report, there’s always this part in the end which states ‘Future Studies’, and in these future studies there will be even more future studies. I think the thought that I could contribute something to this tremendous body of scientific knowledge is an immense pleasure, but also because there is simply no limit to what we can achieve in science.

What do you plan to do when you graduate?

My current plan is to continue and do an Honors degree for now. I haven’t quite decided on a project right now, although I’m leaning towards something that works with animals, particularly in evolutionary theories and also conservation management. After Honors, I’m definitely looking forward to the cliché path of going into research. Working in the lab, pursuing a PhD sometime in the future, and perhaps try and do it in other countries to broaden my horizons more.

If you were talking to a VCE student who wanted to study science but wasn’t sure which uni to pick, what would you tell them about Monash?

Asides from the fact that the Clayton campus is possibly the best campus they could get, I think Monash University offers you the best possible and flexible choice. Too much interests? Tons of people I know decided on double degrees – some that complement each other and some that has nothing at all in common. Not keen on the extra year of double degree? Monash allows you to specialize (major) in something other than your course Hardcore science fanatic? We can use all our elective slots not only for non-science subjects, but also science subjects allowing you to pretty much take all the units possible in Biology. Unsure of what to major in? We’ve got until the end of second year to really confirm on the majors we want – I decided to double major in Ecology & Conservation Biology during my fourth semester at university (because it’s awesome!) even when I initially put it as a minor.

What has been the highlight of your science degree so far?

The highlight of my science degree would be the hands-on lab and field-based work offered continuously throughout the course! Over the span of five semesters I have been involved in: 1) hands-on animal dissections – from cane toads, earthworms, cockroach’s mouth, and snail tongue, 2) surveying species – whether it’s the Rocky Shores fieldtrip for BIO2011, Heron Island for BIO3021, or weed and native plant survey for BIO3111, and simply 3) planning and doing your own projects. I feel that doing these kinds of practical work really gives an edge and a chance of putting applicable skills in your resume.

There is tough competition in my heart – it’s either BIO3021 Marine Biology or BIO3990 Biology in Action Research Project. BIO3021 is one of the most obvious choices due to the fact that I was lucky enough to join in the one week Heron Island field trip. Daily snorkels, late night strolls for laying sea turtles, and surveying hundreds of sea cucumbers is a very general summary of what we did. In BIO3990, I have the greatest honor to work with the Sgro Lab in a project of my own, which involves experimental lab work with Drosophila melanogaster and looking at how their larvae respond differently to thermal stress under different foods. I’ve learned so much by working day-to-day (even weekends) in the lab – from using SPSS for data analysis, sexing flies, picking fly eggs, and quite possibly being a (self) certified fly food chef.

What was the biggest misconception you had about studying science before you started your course?

Back in my home country of Indonesia, we sort of see scientists as the stereotypical old person with glasses, crazy hair, and a clinical white lab coat who are way too smart to converse with us non-scientists people. But being here at Monash and actually meeting them personally makes them feel very much human. Our science lecturers are the best, and they always introduce themselves and what they do in the beginning of their first lecture. They’re also very keen in meeting their students, talking to them about their research and their story, even to the extent of happily showing us their labs if we want to.

Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities? What have you gained from these activities?

I’m involved with the Faculty of Science’s other leadership programs including the Science Future Leaders 2016 cohort, and the Science Peer Mentoring Program both as a peer mentor on 2016, and as a supervisory (super) mentor this 2017. Outside of the faculty, I am a current publications executive officer at the Monash University International Student Services, which is a student-run organization working for international students and providing them with the support they might need. Joining various activities is a fantastic way of meeting a lot of people outside your major, and outside your course. It’s a great learning experience not only to learn more about yourself, your priorities and how you handle various scenarios, it also provided you with a range of ‘soft-skills’ like communication and teamwork that are valuable for the job market. I also think of it as a great way of ‘returning back to the community’ and growing yourself as a person in a non-academic perspective.

Anything else you would like to share about your Monash Science experience?

There’s always something you don’t know in science! Although it seems that there’s only a limited range of job prospects, one of the main thing science at Monash have thought me is that there’s a lot out there we don’t know about. Only after my second year do I know that things such as ‘wildlife forensics’, ‘genetic rescue’, ‘museum scientist’, and ‘taxonomist’ actually exist as occupational roles in the world. Be curious, always – in Monash Science or anywhere you will end up in!

Why did you become a Monash Science Ambassador?

I started out as an ambassador last year, partially because I was intrigued by the role, and partially because I am need to fulfil a volunteering hours’ requirement for the Science Future Leaders program. I came back again as an ambassador this year because from that previous year, I’ve learnt so much about how I love what I’m doing here in Monash and how much I want to share this experience with other current and prospective students (particularly if they’re interested in my major!). And also, because our coordinators are the best :)

A piece of advice I live by/Lifehack:

The extent of what you believe in is what you will get!

I’m currently listening to/watching….:

Mostly listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘Divide’, watching ’13 Reasons Why’ from Netflix, and reading Peter Doherty’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize’.