The University Medal is a distinguished accolade granted to those who demonstrate exceptional academic merit during their Honours degrees. The selection criteria for this award are rigorous.
Maxim’s academic journey focused on evolutionary biology and genetics. His studies led him to delve into the bio-geography, conservation, and species relationships within Eastern Australia. A remarkable breakthrough came when he rediscovered a wood-eating cockroach on a secluded North Bay beach. This particular cockroach, thought to be extinct since the 1930s, was thought to be unique to Lord Howe Island in Australia. Measuring 22 to 40 mm in length, it sports a metallic body that ranges from reddish to black.
These cockroaches harbour specialised micro-organisms in their guts, aiding in the digestion of wood cellulose. Contrary to their name, they exhibit distinct behaviours and habitats, leading researchers to consider them more as ‘rock-roaches,’ with rocks forming a vital part of their environment. This adaptation might be attributed to their co-evolution alongside the ground-foraging Lord Howe Island woodhen. As Maxim noted, “They resemble the wingless black cockroaches often seen scurrying on logs in backyard compost piles.”
At IGS, we take immense pride in Maxim’s accomplishments. As the Head Boy in 2016, Maxim was a quiet yet recognised achiever. As an accelerated Year 11 student, Maxim scored first place in both Italian Continuers and Ukrainian in the 2015 HSC. True to the IGS spirit, Maxim has consistently advocated for deeper learning and the significance of continuing language studies.
Maxim offers valuable advice to future university students: “Don’t overly fixate on academic achievements. When I reflect, I cherish the memories, the experiences I’ll share with my future children. Results aren’t the stories I’ll tell. It’s the scientific discoveries, innovations and most importantly, the people I’ve met. That’s what truly matters. Remember, you have one life—you can have a bit of fun along the way!”
So, what lies ahead for Maxim? As he explores potential PhD opportunities in overseas laboratories, he also expresses interest in practical roles, such as contributing to national parks or conservation efforts.
We extend our heartiest congratulations to Maxim for his unwavering leadership and exceptional academic journey!
Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Paul Galea, where he delves deeper into Maxim’s captivating studies and aspirations.