Spotlight on a student: Angela Keyte
Looking beyond the lab
While finishing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Melbourne, Angela Keyte has already begun to explore career options beyond the lab.
A placement with consulting firm Arup, as part of the Zero Emission Energy Laboratory (ZEE Lab) internship program, opened her eyes to the practical applications of chemistry research for the transition to clean and renewable energy.
Lending her skills to various projects at Arup, Angela contributed research on how to use less water and more renewable energy in the generation of hydrogen, as a potential future green energy resource for Australia.
The experience not only enriched her own learning, but opened career prospects beyond graduation, with Arup expressing interest in employing Angela after completion of her PhD.
We asked Angela to tell us more about her experience as a ZEE Lab intern at Arup, and how it has shaped her plans for the future.
Can you tell us about your ZEE Lab internship project and your role in it?
My ZEE Lab internship threw me into the highs of design and engineering consultancy at Arup – high variety, high energy and high impact! Dazzled though I was by the new environment, I immediately felt a sense of belonging at Arup thanks to an alignment of values. Arup is dedicated to sustainable development and works with leading organisations to address challenges that I care about, like climate change, decarbonisation and the preservation of natural resources.
As a newcomer to the consulting sphere, I naturally began at the starting line, working on research and other behind-the-scenes legwork that offered me insights into the renewable energy sector. I worked with a variety of projects and teams, including Water for Hydrogen, Industrial Fuel Switching, Domestic Hydrogen Opportunities, Reservoir Design and Pumped Hydro Site Review.
My role was to support the teams and tailor my research to suit intended outcomes and audiences. I focused on specific outcomes that the teams were interested in, such as an analysis of the water requirements for producing green ammonia from hydrogen.
Why did you want to be part of ZEE Lab? What have you learned from the experience?
I wanted to discover ways I could apply my chemistry skills outside the lab to realise my goal of working in sustainable energy. In the end, I learned that opening myself up to new experiences and challenges could also enhance my lab chemistry skills!
At university, I find that I tend to go overboard and spend too much time on endless research. My experience with Arup taught me that consulting requires a more focused approach to research that balances efficiency with thoroughness. You need to hone in on what is most important to the client.
Starting with a hypothesis and setting parameters allowed me to concentrate on delivering the most bang for buck. I will be using this new insight to ensure my research spend delivers a clear return on investment.
What did you study to land in this area of research?
During my undergraduate studies I had the opportunity to explore my broad interests in the Melbourne Model with a Bachelor of Science and a concurrent music diploma. Eventually, I found myself majoring in Chemical Physics, which led me to pursue a Master of Chemistry.
I loved the ups of research more than I dreaded the downs, so now I’m continuing with a PhD in chemistry with a research project that aims to create more efficient kesterite solar cells.
What’s the bigger picture? How will your work contribute to the transition to a clean energy system?
My research aims to provide direction for industry stakeholders to ensure their strategies for a clean energy future in Australia can be implemented in a practical and cost-effective way.
What do you want to do next?
I want to help the kesterite solar cell community make a breakthrough so we can offer a more efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly thin film solar cell technology to the world.
After that, I’d like to continue to help facilitate and accelerate the transition to a net-zero carbon future, whether that’s in industry, academia, or as a consultant – especially after my positive experience with Arup as a ZEE Lab intern.
Angela is happy to answer questions related to her experience with ZEE Lab, and can be contacted at email@example.com.