The skills and tools I have learnt to use during my PhD have opened my eyes in how adaptable risk analysis is; the fields of work it can be used in are limitless. So, despite the fact that my work focuses on the risk of avian influenza getting into Australian chicken farms, I can go to a risk analysis conference and understand a variety of topics because we all have risk analysis in common. However, I have faced challenges, especially since mathematics is not my strongest skill. My PhD involves creating scenario trees to assess the risk of avian influenza exposure and spread; the entire concept of this method had to be explained to me from the very beginning. In addition, learning new software to assess risk has also been a challenge.
The first risk analysis conference I visited was the recent Society for Risk Analysis Australia and New Zealand (SRA-ANZ) conference, held in Adelaide in November 2016. I found the experience very enjoyable, thanks to both the people and the interesting presentations. I did not know such a community existed prior to my visit. It is good to have a society understand the technical methodology I used. I learn best from example, and a society like SRA-ANZ helps me by knowing what else is out there; what software and methodologies people are using. This enables me to assess both my work and theirs and ask questions such as “why did you choose that method”?
I signed up as a member of SRA-ANZ and am keen to continue my membership. I am looking forward to visiting more conferences in the future, particularly those held internationally, so that I can meet more members of the SRA community.
In the future, I see myself continuing to use the skills and tools I have learnt during my PhD. I’m not sure exactly where I will end up after my PhD—whether it is at a university, industry or government—but I feel I will still be involved in the risk analysis world. Because of my background in veterinary science, I may end up in a position relating to veterinary public health or veterinary epidemiology. Risk analysis tools are essential in both of these fields and I am thankful I have been introduced to these.