A Career Born of Fertile Ground

Soil Biology Group, Department of Primary Industries Victoria

BSc, Honours (Botany) 1993
PhD (Plant Pathology) 2001

Minimum $40,000
Maximum $80,000
Average $72,000 p.a.

ON the immediate surface of the Earth lives one of the most genetically diverse resources on the planet: soil.

It is examining the biological intricacies of this complex product of Nature that fascinates UQ Science graduate Helen Hayden.

Helen works as a molecular microbial ecologist in Soil Biology Group for the Department of Primary Industries in Victoria.

In her role, she collaborates with overseas and interstate scientists in using cutting-edge DNA technology techniques to analyse soil microbes, with the ultimate aim of helping Victorian farmers better manage their soil health.

“The best part of my job is to communicate my research findings to farmers, funding bodies or peers at international conferences, and even to my work colleagues,” Helen says.

“You can gain new perspectives from your work and valuable feedback, while being inspired to keep up-to-date with your data analysis and research publications.” 

Helen says she discovered her passion in science by studying a variety of subjects in her first year at university. 

“I would advise students not to rush to decide which area you want to pursue,” she says.

“Take your time and find out what you love to study and what inspires you.”

Helen attributes her career journey in part to her UQ lecturers and PhD supervisors.

“They were approachable, knowledgeable, encouraging and inspiring,” she says.

“Many of them gave me new insights and helped shape my career.”