Growing up in Mount Gambier, Ryan Judd (BSc (Hons) ’17) had little idea how importantly STEMM studies affected his region. However, having returned to his hometown with an Honours degree in Environmental Science from Flinders University, he now realises that his skill set in water management plays a crucial role in the prosperity and sustainability of this vast agricultural region.
“I now see my home region through a different set of eyes. Once I applied my science knowledge to the place where I live, I realised that water is absolutely critical to our region, and that I’m now in a position to do positive things about it,” says Ryan.
Ryan came to Flinders University specifically because of its strong global reputation for hydrology and advanced water management. As the home of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, Flinders boasts unequalled teaching expertise of water resources, hydrology and groundwater within the College of Science and Engineering.
“Flinders has the acknowledged leaders in this field, and while I didn’t initially understand what job opportunities would come from an Environmental Science degree, it sounded so interesting that I dived in,” he says. “As I progressed through my degree, I found the path that interested me most and I became fascinated with this niche field of hydrology and water management, which has such great importance and looms as a crucial factor in defining our environmental sustainability.”
Ryan’s honours project focused on an area of groundwater management that the South Australian Department of Environment and Water had specifically suggested, providing him with access to many relevant industry supervisors, including the Department’s principal hydrogeologist.
“I took a great liking to what I found through this exposure to industry and government departments. I was being treated like a professional while I was still a student, and it set me up for a position doing exactly the type of work I wanted.”
Since graduating from Flinders in 2017, Ryan has seen his degree steer him along an interesting career journey. He initially obtained a job in Millicent, doing analysis and field work, operating weirs and dealing with surface water problems – and saw that the skills he learned at university had such a telling effect when applied to large-scale water management projects.
Having moved through numerous roles in public service and environmental consulting, Ryan now works on areas covering water allocation policy and wetlands that are dependent on groundwater, solving complex issues and working closely with the community. “It’s a great responsibility to be designing outcomes that will ensure a strong future for the people, businesses and industries that are critical to this region.”
While currently engrossed in analytical and policy work as a Senior Project Officer with Limestone Coast Landscape Board, Ryan also remains fascinated by the science behind improved water management. At some stage in his career, he sees a likely return to conducting research. “Water management is a big puzzle with a lot of pieces, each with its own very interesting set of challenges. Now I’m familiar and adept at lots of them, but I keep feeling there’s a lot more I can do.”