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Madeleine Way

Headshot of Madeleine Way

Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours 2016

Where are you from?

Richmond, Tasmania

What did you study and why?

I studied Agricultural Science but it took a few conversations and life challenges to get to that decision.

In high school I wanted to be a dentist because I was good at Maths, Science and English and thought it would be a satisfying and well-paying job. In college, a course councillor suggested I look at veterinary science. I applied to all mainland universities that offered vet science and to the University of Tasmania’s science degree. I was accepted into University of Sydney’s Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences, however in year 12 my dad was diagnosed with a rare cancer. I wasn't ready to leave Tasmania so a week before classes started, I swapped to Ag Science at the University of Tasmania. My mum had studied agriculture after my younger sister was born and I grew up on a small farm, so it just made sense.

What are you doing now and what helped you the most on the way?

I am in my final year of my PhD on cider at the University of Tasmania’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. I’m finding out if cider quality is affected by where the apples are grown. It has been a fun and fascinating process, I sourced 6 apples varieties from 9 growing regions from around the country, made them into cider, and tested their quality in the lab.

I was able to take on a PhD thanks to a Westpac Future Leader Scholarship. Not only did the scholarship provide me with funding but also a leadership program which included an intensive 5-day leadership retreat. This allowed me to develop strong friendships with the 20 other scholarship recipients.

What memories do you have of your undergrad and what are the highlights of doing a PhD?

During undergrad, I was very talented at handing assignments in late! Dad passed away at the beginning of second year, so it was extra tough for a while there. The best part of Uni was making lifelong friends with other students doing Ag Science. This has continued into my PhD where I am lucky to be surrounded by a lovely group of PhD students who I can relate to and who support each other.  

The highlights of my PhD so far have been interpreting results and sharing my findings with the cider industry, where my work has a real impact. I have really enjoyed being able to share my research with a wide range of people from cider makers to people who otherwise would have no idea about different types of apples and how they change the flavour of cider.

What opportunities are on offer for you in Tasmania?

I’m fortunate to say I have a case of “the world is my oyster”. Through my PhD I have developed many transferrable skills and agriculture in Tasmania is very diverse. I plan on staying in Tasmania for future work and I would like to work in the cider industry or agriculture when I finish my PhD.

What or who inspires you?

I am a member and board director of Canteen Australia, an organisation that supports young people living with cancer, and their families. Canteen members never fail to inspire me, there are so many young people that have had their lives ripped apart and have faced some of life’s toughest challenges at a very young age. These same people are some of the bravest, kindest, most inspiring people I have ever met.

What are your top career tips?

  • Make the most of opportunities
  • Cut out things that don't help you grow, and
  • Do what you enjoy

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