Student Profiles

IAN RAYMOND has worked within the Royal Australian Navy as a civilian since late-2006. Over all of that time, he has been the Fire Safety subject matter expert and in recent years his role has expanded to become the Fire Safety and Recoverability Assessment Warrant Holder. As such, he is intimately involved with setting fire safety system requirements, assessing fire safety systems, supporting fire safety issues with the existing fleet, and general recoverability capability within the navy.

What were you doing before you started your degree?

I started my PhD in 2013 and so was in my current position. At that time a major area of interest for Navy was the system requirements for handheld nozzles to achieve gas cooling performance during a compartment fire. Even before starting the PhD, Navy had supported testing into these issues. This support continued throughout the test programs and during the degree.

Why did you decide to complete a PhD in Science?

To be able to determine the system requirements for a handheld nozzle which can support gas cooling performance during a compartment fire for Navy required an extensive testing and analysis program. The testing and analysis was seen to be sufficient to meet the requirements of a PhD. In so doing, I resolved an issue for Navy as well as obtained a PhD in Science, which had been an interest of mine since completing my BSc(Hons) in Applied Mathematics many years ago. The other benefit of presenting this work as a PhD is that the outcomes are shared with the fire fighting committee.  

What aspects of your degree have you enjoyed most?

Some 2,700 compartment fire tests with water discharging to generate a thermal response where conducted in a modified shipping container. Conducting these tests in person in structural fire fighting gear and on air dealing with various fire, fuel, and test equipment issues was highly enjoyable. 

How do you think your research will help you in your career?

The outcome of this research will resolve an outstanding issue within Navy. It goes beyond system requirements and offers better training guidance. In so doing, it support the work that I do for the Navy. 


BELINDA FINLAY is a research student completing a Master of Science (Research) in Oceanography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra. She is also a meteorologist and oceanographer in the Royal Australian Navy.

What were you doing before you started your degree?

Before commencing my research masters, I was managing a weather and oceanography centre in the Navy.

Why did you decide to complete a Masters degree in the School of Science?

My career advancement in the Navy requires I upskill to a Masters in Oceanography.

What aspects of your degree have you found most rewarding so far?

It is the most exciting academic venture I have undertaken. I have often said I feel like a real scientist for the first time in my life. While my contributions to the greater scientific understanding will be small, to add even a little to what is known is a buzz.

Do you have any advice for potential students?

Imposter syndrome and self-doubt are real but not the reality of what you can achieve. My mantra has been “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at time”, so take the first bite and apply, the rewards are multiple. 


Interested in pursuing your own research degree? Have a look at the current projects available in Science, or contact Deputy Head of School (Research) Terry Frankcombe for advice on your own project and potential supervisors.