Jack O’Connor

Jack O’Connor

Jack O’Connor

  • Student type: Domestic
  • Year commenced: 2018
  • Degree(s): Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours)
  • Major(s): Ecology and conservation biology
  • Minor(s): Zoology

Why did you decide to study science?
Science is… the ability to harness your curiosity and apply it to the largest and smallest questions known and unknown. I have always had an intense desire to contribute to my own understanding and that of the universe at large through my thoughts and actions, and science exemplifies that. I can see the past as it was through every Palaeobiology specimen I handle, see the future in the teaching of younger generations, and see the impossible through software and experiments undreamt of a century ago.

What made you choose Monash Uni in particular?
Monash Science has a plethora of enticing aspects. The ability to study at the JMR, handle a world-class specimen collection, learn from the finest minds… but what truly drew me the most is my course; the Bachelor of Science Advanced Global Challenges (Honours). I have pushed the envelope on academic projects my entire life, and GC provided everything I could want and more! The ability to undertake a sponsored overseas internship, conduct real-world consulting, start a business… who could ask for anything more?

What's your favourite aspect of studying science?
The questions. For some people, science is about finding the answers, or solving a long-held problem. Those are extremely appealing to me for sure, but the feeling I have when I write a report and provide some future questions for the next generation to investigate? Nothing gives me a greater feeling of belonging.

What do you plan to do when you graduate?
After my Honours year, I plan to, opportunities permitting, undertake a PhD in Palaeobiology or Marine Biology, before truly entering the workforce. I currently hold the positions of the Head of Let’s Torque, a science communication organisation under the Royal Society of Victoria, and I can easily see myself paddling down the river of SciComm for most of my future career.

What has been the highlight of your science degree so far?
In January 2020, I was able to spend a month in the remote wilderness of New Zealand designing an educational trail for the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. I sourced and organised the entire internship, including the logistics of the project and its ultimate pitching to investors. Throughout the entire process I have never felt more in tune with the reasons why ecology and conservation biology are so vital, and despite it being structured around a unit in the GC course, it never felt like disconnected assignments for marks.

What's the biggest misconception you had about studying science before you started your course?
Perfection. As a slight perfectionist in the field of experiments and assignment creation, I held myself to an impossible standard upon entering Monash Science. I have since grown to understand why failed experiments are often more valuable than successful ones, why it’s important to recognise that many different styles of presentation exist, and just why breadth is so valuable.

If you were to give some advice to someone who's thinking about studying at Monash Science, what would you say?
Monash Science is broad enough to encompass your interests, niche enough to pave the road for your passions, skilled enough to blow you away with tales of meteorite collection and species discovery, and compassionate enough to understand your humanity. It is a melting pot for the very finest artworks, and this gallery will always have a place for you.

Give us a life hack or piece of advice you live by:
Always look for an angle that gives you a chance to be creative. Were you asked to create a scientific poster? Turn it into a piece that the research team which inspired would go on to actively use it! Were you asked to keep a record of your reflections for a unit? Spin them into a live SciComm blog that you can then show potential employers. That would be my advice, to be your most creative self.