Assoc Prof Jeff Shimeta is program leader for the Bachelor of Science (Biological Sciences) and was acknowledged in 2015 by the Office for Learning and Teaching for his focus on experiential learning.
I was drawn to marine biology during my own undergraduate studies, because of field experiences similar to those I provide students now.
My career began in the United States, but I’ve developed a great love of the beauty and uniqueness of Australian natural environments.
In all my courses I take students out into the field to observe the environment, to learn field sampling techniques and to collect data for analysis and report writing. Our excursions range from local ponds, saltmarshes and coastal rock platforms to aquaculture farms and the Great Barrier Reef.
Our degree program in Biological Sciences covers the gamut from molecular and cellular biology, genetics and microbiology, through to plant and animal science, ecology, and specialist areas such as ecotoxicology, biotechnology, and marine biology. In all of our courses we focus on teaching good lab and field skills, as well as data collection, analysis and presentation.
The biggest challenge for students today is creating, finding and pursuing opportunities to apply their university education to a successful career path, especially in a challenging job market. At RMIT we give our biology and environmental science students a broad range of skills and experiences to help make that happen.
My most successful students are those who are truly passionate about their interests and their learning. They excel because they are deeply inspired and driven internally, not because of desires for gratification. Some have won grants or awards for their research or gone into exciting jobs doing what they love, such as environmental conservation and field work.
I have been recognised twice by the Commonwealth with citations for outstanding contributions to student learning. The first time for ‘innovative teaching of critical thinking skills in understanding science as an investigative process’ in 2010 and again for ‘inspiring biology and environmental science students with an integrated teaching approach centred on field excursions’ in 2015.
The greatest teaching experiences are when students discover their passion for environmental science – especially if it happens when we are knee-deep in saltmarsh mud or doing a night dive on the Great Barrier Reef!