'The PhD project was just what I was after: interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, and involving structural techniques that I wanted to learn...'
Studying towards a PhD in Biochemistry
Her fascination for science led Amy to study her PhD at UC after growing up in North Canterbury. She says what drew her in was ‘how mind-boggling and wonderful it is that seemingly lifeless chemical and molecular exchanges can come together to form living organisms.’
Amy started at UC by studying a Mathematics course through the STAR at UC programme while still a high school student at Christchurch Girls’ High School. She then travelled to the UK to complete her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge.
Returning to UC to do her PhD in Biochemistry was an easy decision. ‘The PhD project was just what I was after: interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, and involving structural techniques that I wanted to learn.’
One of her supervisors, Professor Juliet Gerrard, helped convince her that studying her PhD within the Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) was the right place to be. ‘Being in an interconnected scientific community, such as BIC, makes for easy collaborations and enables me to seek advice from those with diverse scientific expertise.’ The facilities available through BIC, including a new analytical centrifuge, were also a factor.
‘Structural biology, which forms part of my PhD project, allows for the study of some minute biological details,’ she says.
‘Evolved molecular interactions of biological systems can be exploited to generate novel materials for applications outside of the cell; this process is called “nanobiotechnology”, and it is a privilege for me to be part of this exciting, emerging field.’
Once her PhD is completed, Amy intends to continue with her work in nanobiotechnology. The experience gained in her PhD of a combination of lab work with reading and writing will set her up well in her career. ‘Next, I plan to get a post-doctoral fellowship, and then move on to leading a research group.’
Since Amy arrived at UC, she has found the support of her fellow postgraduate students and her supervisor invaluable. ‘They also make the whole experience a lot of fun!’
In her downtime, Amy likes to go tramping, eat out and play ultimate Frisbee. She finds her PhD very enjoyable though. ‘Every day I learn something new and that is what makes this project so rewarding.’
She recommends students who are interested in Biological Sciences learn more about all the varied areas they can focus on while still an undergraduate student. Her advice is to ‘volunteer or do summer internships during your holidays so that when you finish your degree you will know which area you want to specialise in.’