Bex’s career story

 

A passion for water

Bex Dunn has always loved the water. She loves sailing, and originally wanted to be a yacht designer. The global financial crisis dashed that plan, but Bex found her way back to the water’s edge. She is now an Earth Observation Scientist at Geoscience Australia, where she uses satellite imagery to monitor Australia’s wetlands.

 

Looking back at Australia from space

“Using satellites to see what is happening on the planet is what makes my job a space industry job,” says Bex. We’re looking back at Australia from space.”

 

Protecting wetlands

Water is a precious resource, and wetlands play a critical role in Australia’s ecosystem. Bex creates tools that help government departments and other clients see how healthy wetlands are. They also observe how they are changing over time.

 

Driving a satellite-powered time machine

Bex mainly uses imagery from the USGS/NASA Landsat program and the European Commission’s Sentinel satellites. These satellites orbit the Earth, capturing imagery from every point over a number of days. The Landsat image archives date back to 1987, helping scientists monitor the evolution of the landscape.

“It’s really useful for tracking the evolution of cropping in Australia, or changes in water management,” says Bex. “We basically drive a time machine.”

 

Other planets to observe

Bex enjoys knowing there are always other planets to observe. “If we run out of cool things to look at on Earth, there's always Mars,” she says. “There's plenty of water in the universe.”

“If we run out of cool things to look at on Earth, there's always Mars.”

Bex’s career journey timeline

2003

Bex grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. She first visited Australia as a NZ delegate for the National Youth Science Forum in 2003.

The following year, Bex moved to Sydney to enrol in the Bachelor of Engineering in Naval Architecture with Honours at the University of New South Wales

2008

Bex graduated in 2008. The global financial crisis meant there was not a lot of demand for graduate yacht designers. Instead, she moved to Tasmania to do a PhD, but ended up bushwalking and sailing instead.

2014

Bex went back to uni to do a second honours year, this time in physical oceanography. She also volunteered with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2015.

2016

Bex joined the graduate program at Geoscience Australia in 2016. Her graduate rotations included measuring gravity, tsunami modelling and mapping marine sediments.

2018

Bex was offered a permanent role as an Earth Observation Scientist. She is now part of the Digital Earth Australia team. In her role, she develops tools for mapping and monitoring Australian wetlands.

Key resources

Our key space career job roles and study pathways information is packaged up into downloadable PDFs that students, teachers or parents can easily browse through and keep as a handy reference.

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Space careers booklet

Our space career booklet covers all the space careers we talk about online, and can be downloaded by students, teachers or parents to read, share or use in the classroom.

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A space for everyone: careers in space poster

This poster covers some of the key space careers on offer. Teachers can put the poster in spaces accessible to students and encourage them to access the career information by scanning the embedded QR code.

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