Learning on the job with MIWATCH

Research Assistant Joshua Crow on his time working with the Mine Waste Transformation through Characterisation (MIWATCH) research group while studying for his undergraduate.

‘You miss 100 per cent of the chances that you don’t take’ was what I told myself when I sent my first email to Associate Professor Anita Parbhakar Fox as a first-year undergraduate (a very daunting task indeed). After hearing her discuss mine waste characterisation and transformation at a student industry event I knew two things: I didn’t know a lot about mine waste in general, and I wanted to learn a lot more.

Katerina Savinova, Joshua Crow and Kam Bhowany taking a self photo in a car.
Nothing but smiles on site in the Northern Territory with Katerina Savinova (left), Kam Bhowany (right), and Joshua Crow (back) .

I definitely didn’t expect that email to lead some of the greatest opportunities and experiences I’ve had as an undergrad so far. Now over a year later I get to call the amazing MIWATCH team my colleagues and mentors. I’ve had the privilege of joining them and learning firsthand both in the lab and, recently, in the field.

Joshua Crow kneeling next to samples
Joshua Crow learning how to do Paste pH tests at ALS.  

The prospect of going on a field campaign as an undergraduate is both an extremely exciting and terrifying prospect.  You don’t know what to expect, and everything is a novelty. Having now helped sample in three states for MIWATCH, that excitement hasn’t gone away.

Learning the ins and outs of field work and mine site procedures and putting coursework into practice has helped develop my toolkit as an aspiring geologist and continues to make me wonder where that toolkit will take me after I graduate.

Joshua Crow in PPE kneeling next to tailings samples
How do you do this again? Joshua Crow filling out a sedimentary log of a hand augured tailings sample.

At worst, that email I sent to Anita over a year ago might have been ignored but reaching out to learn more has led to amazing experiences and a network I would never have otherwise been able to get as an undergrad.

I would more than encourage any undergrad even remotely interested in MIWATCH or the Sustainable Minerals Institute to send that first email… you never know how far it can take you!

Last updated:
10 November 2022