Claire Hayward shares her journey

As Flinders University celebrates 30 years of teaching Environmental Health in 2024, we spoke to graduate Claire Hayward (BSc(Hons) ’20, GradDipEnvHlthPrac ’22) about her journey into the field and the role Flinders played in getting her career to this point as an Associate Lecturer in Environmental Health at the very University she studied at!


What is your current role and responsibility?

I am an Associate Lecturer in Environmental Health (commenced 2023) and I am also completing a PhD in Environmental Health (commenced 2021). I am the coordinator for Environmental Health topics ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ and ‘Food Safety’.


Have you always had an interest in Environmental Health? If so, what sparked your interest and/or was there a turning point?

I came to Flinders enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Forensic and Analytical Science), however, I was always curious about biology and a career in research. I liked that this degree allowed me to enrol in a lot of electives, including Foundations of Microbiology in my final year. By this stage, I knew I wanted to continue through to Honours, however I didn’t know what project to pick until I heard a guest lecture from Dr Harriet Whiley in Foundations of Microbiology and this was when I first heard about Environmental Health. I loved how this area would allow me to conduct my own research in the lab, but also connect with the profession and with those in government to see my findings through to policy change.


Is there any experience from your time at Flinders that has had a lasting impact on you professionally or personally?

The Environmental Health team is incredibly supportive. I have a strong group of women to look up to as an early career researcher that have been able to pursue incredibly successful careers in academia whilst also balancing families and hobbies.


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

I hope that awareness of Environmental Health continues to grow in the public and for prospective students. Environmental Health professionals are often the unsung heroes of public health as we are managing risk and protecting health before issues may arise.


What advice do you have for your younger self, or for students beginning their career in Environmental Health?

I would encourage students to enrol in diverse electives if they are able to, Environmental Health is a very interdisciplinary profession and this experience would definitely help!

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College of Science and Engineering Environment Health

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