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Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Ben Storer

We are given a lot of flexibility in our Graduate Program to shape our experience and take on rotations that are interesting to us.

What's your job about?

ANSTO runs Australia’s multi-purpose nuclear reactor and uses its infrastructure for a range of research for industry and academia. ANSTO also produces radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and therapy throughout Australia and parts of the world.

In my current rotation, I work in the Human Health team. I work on a range of projects that aim to understand the effects of radiation on the body. I have been involved in a number of experiments that aim to examine the effects of radiation on the central nervous system. This includes research, experimental design, submitting applications and proposals, performing experiments (and learning a range of new experimental techniques), and more. 

Recently, I have been working with the team to optimise, perform and analyse an experiment to test inflammation in the brain in animal models after exposure to different levels of radiation. 

In my first rotation, I worked as part of the Culture team. In this team, I worked on projects designed to improve the workplace experience for all employees. In particular, I worked on building data models to determine successes and areas of improvement for our change programs, and how it differs across the organisation. I was involved in many initiatives with the team, from employee well-being to employee support, to diversity and inclusion, and more. 

In addition, I’ve been involved in a range of other projects, including taking on the project manager role for one of our diversity and inclusion projects, taking part in our Indigenous working group, and our graduate program. 

What's your background?

I grew up in Maitland for most of my childhood. I went to high school in Newcastle at Merewether High where my passion for science developed. A lot of my time outside of school was spent on sports, especially cricket and rugby. I also started working in high school, part-time at my parents’ physio practice.

In 2015, I moved to Sydney to study at UNSW. I majored in neuroscience and psychology, completing my honours in perception, looking at how image properties and psychophysical measures can predict our preference for different stimuli. Throughout uni, I spent time working in retail, and later, began working at UNSW. I also got involved with a few different societies during uni. In 2018, I was lucky to begin working as an intern at ANSTO and continued to work there part-time up until starting the graduate program. 

I started in the ANSTO graduate program in February 2019. I spent my first rotation in the Culture team, where I had interned and was able to pursue a lot of the work I did as an intern in more depth, along with taking on new work. I am now working in Human Health, examining the effects of radiation on the body.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. One of the things I was most surprised about at ANSTO is the breadth of projects that ANSTO is involved with. Our graduate cohort come from very different educational backgrounds and are all involved in very different work. Even the areas I’ve been involved in during my first two rotations have been extremely different.

As long as you’re willing to learn and take on new experiences, there’s a place for you.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Working at ANSTO gives me the opportunity to work with technologies very few people have the opportunity to work with. It’s exciting to see the many applications of these technologies. In particular, for me, I love seeing the application of our technologies to benefit health.   

What are the limitations of your job?

We are given a lot of flexibility in our Graduate Program to shape our experience and take on rotations that are interesting to us. While there are many positives that come with that, it does put some extra pressure on you to take responsibility for your experience. You’ll need to spend some time figuring out what you want and what you hope to get out of each rotation, and the implication your choices have on finding the right job for you at the end of the graduate program.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Get involved outside of class. Volunteer in labs, look at internships early, and find other volunteering opportunities.
  2. Take some time to figure out your goals and how you can go about achieving them.
  3. Talk to your professors and lecturers, whether about the content or the field. Similarly, don’t be afraid to reach out to people in fields you’re interested in; most people will be happy to talk to you.