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By Tracy Taggart 16 March 2023 2 min read

Researching regulations for farming fish isn't every student's idea of an unforgettable holiday. But for Amarah Fiori, a zoology and ecology student, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

She recently took part in an undergraduate studentship with us.

Indigenous studentship dishes up experience

Amarah's passion for Australian biodiversity conservation led her to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in zoology and ecology, at James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland.

Amarah is of Kamilaroi descent. She heard about our placements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students while at a workshop at the JCU Indigenous Education and Research Centre (IERC) in Townsville. She jumped at the opportunity andsecured an Agriculture and Food Vacation Studentship with us.

Amarah spent her holiday researching regulations for the aquaculture industry. The opportunity was made possible through a partnership between CSIRO and JCU, and as part of the 2022 AgCatalyst program. The studentship gave Amarah the opportunity to advance and apply her research skills in a real-world setting.

“I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and do independent research to support the program, which is something I hadn’t done before,” Amarah said.

“Undertaking independent research, and learning scientific writing skills, really boosted my confidence. As did delivering a virtual presentation at the end of my studentship."

Amarah built research skills and improved her writing and presentation skills through her Indigenous studentship.

Scaling new heights

In addition to developing her writing and presentation skills, the studentship gave Amarah the opportunity to learn about engaging with stakeholders. She said the experience gave her a general boost in confidence, which was a valuable takeaway from the studentship.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other Indigenous students. Lots of support is provided and the supervisors are super helpful. It was a good experience for me, both personally and academically,” Amarah said.

“The studentship is a good way to decide whether research is for you. Don’t write yourself off from a career in research!”

Amarah also credits the support she received from her CSIRO mentors as one of the highlights of the experience.

"I had great support from my mentor, Nick Wade, as well as Ian Watson, Tansyn Noble and Simon Irvin," she said.

Collaborating to build Indigenous research capacity

Amarah's experience was made possible through a partnership between JCU and CSIRO. The partnership brings together our Indigenous Science and Engagement, Agriculture and Food, Environment, Health and Biosecurity, and Science Impact and Policy business units to provide valuable, diverse research experience for Indigenous students.

A key goal of the partnership is to build Indigenous research capacity. It is guided by a co-developed impact pathway and led by an Indigenous working group. The group consists of representatives from across CSIRO and JCU.

The key priority of the partnership is 'Making Research Available'. The pilot program has provided an opportunity to better understand how to create successful placements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

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