Student laying on a bed reading a textbook

Double degrees: the best of both worlds

Shivani Radia, 21, Forensic Science

A little about me

I’m a fourth-year student. I studied a Bachelor of Science, with a double major in Forensic Biology and Toxicology and Biomedical Science, and now I’m pursuing a neuroscience-based honours project. Studying a double major allowed me to not only learn about my interests but also provided me the opportunity to hopefully make a real contribution to society in the future.

I’ve lived in Kenya, England and now Australia, and I’ve been able to see first-hand the massive implications that science, medicine and the justice system can have on a society.

How I knew what I wanted to study

I have always been intrigued by how the human body works, so studying biomedical science seemed to be the ‘no-brainer’ option.

But I was also always interested in the law and criminal justice system – and I was obsessed with a certain long-running American TV show! When I attended Murdoch Open Day during Year 12, I met an amazing academic, Dr Bob Mead, who showed me I didn’t have to choose one or the other; Murdoch’s option to study this double major would allow me to get a taster of both.

For my honours year, Murdoch allowed me to pursue a unique collaborative project that incorporates Biomedical Science, Psychology, and Sport and Exercise Science. It was my double major that made me realise that I wanted to pursue research in a collaborative space. Murdoch really embraces this and makes it possible.

I love Murdoch so much, I even encouraged my family friend, Nikhil, to join me. He’s now studying Chiro and he’s loving it.

Scholarships have been life-changing

I was lucky enough to receive three uni scholarships during my undergraduate: a Murdoch First Scholarship, Murdoch Senate Scholarship, and the New Colombo Plan Grant Scholarship. And for my honours year, I’ve received two more: the Lonergan Family Scholarship and the Murdoch University Academic Excellence Award.

Through the university’s work-integrated learning program, I also had the privilege of taking an internship at the Institute of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. 

How my teachers support me

There have been two fantastic teachers who have stood out over the years.

Dr Garth Maker helped plan my course structure and provided insightful opinions on future career choices and how to build my portfolio alongside my academic efforts. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with someone that genuinely cares about his students and the quality of education that is provided at Murdoch University.

There is also Dr Paola Magni, who accompanied our group to Malaysia for the Intercultural Forensics Experience and has been a role model. She’s shown me that being a successful woman in science does not have to interfere with social and home life. Dr Magni has always been approachable, supportive and encouraged me to try out lots of different things, especially when I was hesitant to step out of my comfort zone. 

This is a university that doesn’t treat you as a number, but as an individual. Your opinions matter your effort will be recognised.

My experience with study from home

There has obviously been a lot of alone time for me lately and I’ve realised the importance of looking after my mental health.

I’ve been maintaining a routine, keeping an organised and clean workspace, scheduling regular breaks to check in on my family and friends, and making sure I have personal time.

Social media and online meeting platforms have really helped keep me connected with the Murdoch community. My research group has made an effort to schedule regular check-in ‘tea-time’ meetings, and my supervisor has been amazing in keeping in contact via Zoom and emails to make sure I’m on track and to see how I have adjusted to the different working environment.

My favourite Murdoch experience

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel with Paola Magni to Malaysia on an Intercultural Forensics Experience.

Highlights include experiencing maritime crime scene stimulations, learning about mass disaster recovery from experts involved in the MH37 investigation, and seeing forensic science in a different geographical location and culture.

The experience was amazing, and I made lifelong friendships. A group of 10 forensic students left Perth as strangers and returned as a small united family.