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Peter: Algae are amazing microscopic organisms.
They’re a tenth the size of a human hair, there’s 300,000 species on the planet, and
they can make virtually any product we need.
Algae has the potential for industrial applications covering three areas, so that’s agricultural
biotech, industrial biotech and medical biotech.
These three industries together are worth about $350 billion in the US.
The Australian opportunity here is massive and this is what we here at UTS are moving
Samantha: Studying biotechnology at UTS is very different from what I expected.
Coming into the subject, I had no idea there were so many diverse applications of algae.
We study things like bioinformatics, and intricate circuits that had to do with biosensors.
They were challenging, but to be honest, I thought that they were impossible before I
did this subject, because a lot of my fellow students and I felt like we weren’t capable
of doing those things, that we weren’t capable of writing codes or working with circuits,
and that was a really eye-opening thing.
The lecturers and subject coordinators at UTS, they’re really engaging in biotechnology
now, and they’re teaching us about it now, so I think having that insight into technology
that’s only just emerging is really equipping me for the future.
Peter: The jobs that are emerging in the algal biotech space will involve engineers to optimise
the production of that.
Designers, molecular engineers to modify the algae.
Strain optimisation specialists.
So, all of these biological but also engineering-type opportunities are where they industry’s
going to need trained technicians and also experimental scientists to take their industry
Instead of just training the students and hoping they get a job at the end, we work
with them throughout their postgraduate degree program where we meet with industry partners
on a monthly basis, and our students are industry facing, so they’re ready at the end of their
PhDs to work straight into an industry position.
These jobs are the jobs of the future, and UTS is able to train these students in this space.