Combined passion leads to unique insight on the Coast
When Dr Bill Chivers first stepped onto the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah campus in 2000, he was a fresh-faced, early career researcher who went by ‘Mr’.
A zoology graduate with a keen interest in computing, he’d left a job teaching IT at Blacktown TAFE to make a career combining his passion for computer science with his love of biology.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Dr Chivers’s unique work is contributing to key areas of conservation, having analysed predator-prey models as part of his PhD and, more recently, using data to track the movement of marine plankton populations to map the effects of marine temperature rise.
Dr Chivers is just one of the many bright minds fostered by the University’s Ourimbah campus on the Central Coast. As the campus celebrates 30 years on 31st July, Dr Chivers said the unique nature of Ourimbah had been key to his success.
“Having a space in the Science Offices Building has been a highlight for me, as I’m surrounded by academics from ecology and computing,” Dr Chivers said.
“This close proximity to members of both disciplines wouldn’t have happened at a larger campus, which also highlights the unique community at Ourimbah – we’re much closer to and able to collaborate with academics across all fields.
“During my time here, I’ve had a chance to work as an academic, complete my PhD and contribute to research with colleagues locally and from around the world. Plus, I get to write computer code to address research questions in ecology – how good is that?”
Dr Chivers said he had enjoyed watching the campus evolve, including the development of new, modern infrastructure. Despite the advancements in teaching spaces and technologies, he said Ourimbah still enjoyed the benefits of being a tight-knit community.
“Many new buildings have been constructed in the last 20 years. The campus has grown but not too much to lose the advantages of its small size. I still really enjoy teaching and regular conversation with our students, both school-leavers and mature-age students changing their careers like I did,” he said.
Moving forward, Dr Chivers said he was excited to continue his unique combination of teaching, advancing the field of ecology through data insight and harnessing the academic expertise at the University.
“We’re well aware that we have an important role in the Central Coast community. Our classes and academics are really accessible to students and we can be much more available – that’s something I love about working here,” Dr Chivers said.
“We could say these things about many small campuses in regional areas, but the advantage Ourimbah has over other regional universities is that we’re part of one of Australia's leading universities. We have the advantage of being tight-knit but with the powerful resources, research output and experience of the University of Newcastle.”
We’re well aware that we have an important role in the Central Coast community. Our classes and academics are really accessible to students and we can be much more available – that’s something I love about working here.
Read more feature stories - 30 years on the Central Coast
The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.