How do you get to be an Associate Lecturer at Macquarie University, while also becoming a director of your own renewable energy consulting company at the tender age of 28?
It’s not necessarily about starting early, says Bjorn Sturmberg. “I didn’t have a clear career goal when I was in high school… to be honest I’m still not sure that it’s clear to me now,” he laughs.
“My ambition and motivation, now and for as long as I can remember, is to contribute to improving the health of our planet.”
In high school he was passionate about maths and physics, and in the first year of his Advanced Science degree at university he decided to broaden his mind by enrolling in history, philosophy and anthropology courses.
This year he graduated from his PhD on “light trapping in nanostructures and metamaterials”, for which he was awarded an Australian Renewable Energy Agency scholarship. In 2012 he won the Helen Beh Citizenship. Since then he’s been working at Macquarie University’s physics and astronomy department, while setting up his consulting company, Kairos Power.
“I love the intellectual challenges of physics research, getting to spend weeks nutting out solutions to problems no-one else has ever solved. And the best part about the consulting work is the immediacy of seeing my work turn into practical solutions when renewable energy systems get installed.”
Along the path to his current work he also worked as a physics tutor, guitar tutor, medical receptionist and professional mower of lawns.
Though he’s incredibly passionate about his career he says it isn’t always easy.
“Sometimes you get stuck on a problem for a long time. It can be hard to stay motivated and believe that you really will arrive at the solution.”
Aside from physics his other love is the outdoors. It’s important to keep a balance between mind and body. “Nothing’s better than spending a couple of days out bush with good friends being immersed in nature. Ideally doing something a little adventurous like climbing, canyoning or white water kayaking.”
For the future Bjorn is looking forward to progressing his career in the renewable energy industry. “I cannot wait for Australia to realise its potential to be a renewable energy powerhouse.”
What’s your advice for high school students?
“If you’re psyched on something you should follow it and see where it leads. Being interested and eager to learn is the most important attribute in anyone. I also believe that maintaining a diverse set of interests and skills is so valuable, and will make your life more interesting.”