Meet Dante: final year Bachelor of Agriculture student

For Dante Romeo, one of the defining features of the Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne is a high level of access to leading scientific experts.

Professor Timothy Reeves, Enterprise Professor in Sustainable Agriculture and Professor in Residence at the University’s Dookie campus, is one example.

Professor Reeves started his career in sustainable agricultural research at Rutherglen in Victoria and went on to serve in roles for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and as Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) before joining the University in 2018.

“Talking to Professor Tim Reeves about my potential career pathways and what I need to do to achieve my aims was very helpful,” Dante says.

“He answered all of my questions and helped me clarify some goals. His career has been very interesting, and his knowledge is amazing.”

Professor Reeves has continued his work to make agriculture more sustainable and food access more secure worldwide and regards his role as helping the next generation of agricultural scientists to meet those challenges.

Dante aims to be one of the next generation helping to design solutions to meet the many challenges faced by agriculture that often present dangerous consequences, including sustainability and climate change.

“Agriculture faces many issues and I hope to one day contribute to solutions myself,” Dante says.

“Sustainability is now arguably the biggest challenge facing society. Improving – or hopefully one day solving – our sustainability issues will be very difficult, but without these efforts, the consequences will be incredibly severe.”

Dante has already started exploring his options to contribute to research as an honours student under the supervision of science experts after he completes his Bachelor of Agriculture in 2021. Honours will give him the opportunity to apply his knowledge and the latest science to solve challenges for the industry.

As a student at the University, Dante has been impressed by the facilities available to students, particularly in the new veterinary and agricultural sciences building at the Parkville city campus, which has a range of student spaces, bio-secure laboratories and digital microscopes that allow students to examine and discuss samples together on large screens.

“Some of the lab work, such as experiments in genetics including extracting DNA, amplifying it and then making it visible to the naked eye, were real highlights,” he says.

“I've also done some interesting lab work this year finding, identifying, and culturing a variety of plant pathogens.”

Honours is also an excellent way to grow your network while contributing to research that addresses real issues – and to show a potential employer you have a thorough and practical understanding of the latest technology and science.

“There are several career paths that interest me, including research work, technology extension, and policy development,” Dante says.

“I feel that my career prospects are very strong. Demand for graduates is high and many industry bodies and companies are looking for new staff.”

This demand for graduates and the surprising range of careers they are able to pursue – from animal health to financial management – leads Dante to recommend a Bachelor of Agriculture for people interested in sustainability and the environment.

“There is no need to pick a career path early on, as there is a huge number of areas to explore before choosing. There is a huge number of areas you can specialise in, and there are many opportunities available in those areas. There is something interesting to do everywhere.”

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