My name is Bianca Russom and I am a Master of Research graduate from Western Sydney University. My research explores the environmental impact of illicit drugs. Specifically, my thesis discusses the presence and persistence of cocaine and its metabolites in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River. More broadly, my research interests extend to the ecological effects of emerging environmental contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). I am passionate about education, community engagement and citizen science projects.
My university career began in 2015 when I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) degree with Western Sydney University. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was involved in several research projects. One such project was developed into a larger experiment which enabled me to transition into postgraduate research. I graduated in 2017 with distinction and a specialisation in Marine Biology. In 2018, I commenced a Master of Research degree under the supervision of Dr Jason Reynolds & Dr Mark Williams. I submitted my thesis in 2020.
I worked in community pharmacy from 2014 to 2020, climbing the ranks from junior pharmacy assistant to dispensary technician. In 2016, I completed a Certificate III in Community Pharmacy with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. My time in pharmacy heavily influenced my research interests and the direction of my science career.
In February 2018, I was first employed by the School of Science & Health at Western Sydney University as a Casual Academic in Environmental Geochemistry. Since then, I have been involved with teaching chemistry, water quality and other science units within the school. These roles have furthered my skills and desire to educate the community on environmental issues using an engaging and innovative approach.
In April 2020, I commenced a position at Central Coast Council in the Water & Sewer Laboratory. My position is diverse and allows me to utilise and expand both field and laboratory skillsets. In May 2021, I transferred to the Water Compliance team where I am a Regulation Analyst. This position allows me to further expand my knowledge in environment and water industry regulation and policy.
My academic studies combined with my work in community pharmacy and teaching provide me with a comprehensive understanding of how PPCPs enter, behave and ultimately impact our ecosystems, from point of sale to detection in our environment. The marriage of these viewpoints enhances my understanding of the roles environmental scientists, pharmacy professionals and the community play in the minimisation of these household pollutants entering our environment. This inter-disciplinary approach can aid in bridging the gap between academia, policy makers, industry professionals and the wider community.
As of 2022, I am based on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia.