Associate Professor Harriet Whiley shares her journey

As Flinders University celebrates 30 years of teaching Environmental Health in 2024, we spoke to graduate and academic Associate Professor Harriet Whiley (BMedSc ’09, BSc(Hons) ’11, PhD(EnvHlth) ’15, GradDipEnvHlthPrac ’18) about her journey into the field and the role Flinders played in getting her career to this point.


What is your current role and responsibility?

Associate Professor in Environmental Health and Deputy Director of the ARC Training Centre for Biofilm Research and Innovation.


What aspects of your position bring you the most satisfaction?

I get a lot of satisfaction when I meet past students that I have taught, now working in their profession, and getting to see them excel in their field and make a difference. I also really enjoy when I have a co-design industry research project that fulfills a critical gap in knowledge and informs improved regulation or professional practice, ultimately improving public health protection.

Professor Howard Fallowfield and Harriet at a wastewater treatment plant

As Flinders celebrates 30 years of Environmental Health in 2024, how have you observed the evolution of the degree during this period?

Environmental Health is constantly evolving with new challenges arising. This has meant Environmental Health Officers have an increase scope of practice. Environmental Health at Flinders is fortunate enough to have the ongoing support from our Professional Advisory Committee who ensure that our educational material has evolved with the profession. This means we are consistently updating case studies and incorporating the learning of new skills as the need arises.


What are your thoughts on the future trajectory of Environmental Health 30 years from now?

Environmental Health has a strong trajectory as the profession has a key role to play in protecting public health. This is going to become increasingly important as new challenges arise due to climate change. I believe that through continued advocacy, the importance of environmental health will be increasingly recognised and the profession highly valued by their organisations and the public.


Have you always aspired to pursue a career in Environmental Health? Could you share a bit about your journey to Flinders and how that unfolded?

I studied a Bachelor of Medical Science at Flinders University and was first introduced to Environmental Health during a third year elective topic. From the beginning I was fascinated by Environmental Health and the profession. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of Environmental Health Officers before and yet they play such an important role in protect our health. I then went on and studied Honours and a PhD in Environmental Health before completing the Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health Practice.


In what ways does Flinders University stand out from other educational institutions?

Environmental Health at Flinders stands out as we have a team of Environmental Health academics delivering our educational content. The team all engage actively with the profession, but also have strong research profiles in Environmental Health. This means that our teaching is informed by our research, which in turn ensures we are delivering material that is current and authentic.


Harriet Whiley is looking forward to celebrating 30 years of Environmental Health being taught at Flinders University.

Posted in
College of Science and Engineering Environment Health Uncategorised

Leave a Reply