Pariya Tork

'UC is one of the best universities in my major that provides a huge range of opportunities...'

  • Pariya Tork

Studying towards a PhD in Biological Sciences

Assistant Technician, UC

Pariya was determined to discover more in Biological Sciences, after her initial bachelor’s and master’s studies. She decided to travel from Iran to New Zealand to pursue a PhD, and chose UC to carry out her research.

‘UC is one of the best universities in my major that provides a huge range of opportunities for a PhD student who wants to be an expert in Biology,’ she says. ‘It was one of the best opportunities to study in a great university with amazing ongoing learning courses and scientific vibe. Everything to make me a real scientist!’

As an international student, Pariya made a lot of use of UC’s free ESL writing and speaking courses and the Academic Skills Centre starting up her PhD.

‘It’s so interesting to me that even about very small things UC has plans to help students. For example there are a lot of advisors who help students non-stop doing their essays, and facing thesis challenges from the beginning to analysing the end results!’

Pariya’s own research involves working with jumping spiders (salticids), and investigating how they maintain their natural biological clocks and how external factors such as light and weather can affect this. Her experiments look into how these factors ties into their ability to navigate through nature.

‘I’m working in restricted lab (PC2) every day because we are working on non-domestic spiders from abroad. These days I’m measuring the level of activity in salticids using an incubator to mimic winter and summer conditions and an interesting machine for recording their activities using light bins.

‘The second part of my experiments are done in a huge terrarium as a semi natural environment to investigate salticidae navigation with camera recordings.’

Having previously studied plant pathology and protection, working with jumping spiders has a whole different feel that Pariya is thoroughly enjoying.

‘When I’m working on live creatures I feel alive, and science is something that gives me a sense of moving through the scientific tunnels and always being excited!’

Her research has so far earned a few scholarship awards, and alongside participating in BioSoc (Biology Society) events in her spare time, Pariya has also been a lab demonstrator and participated in field trips around Christchurch.

After developing such an interest in her jumping spiders, Pariya advises other students thinking of doing a PhD in Biological Sciences to be enthusiastic about their living subjects.

‘If someone wants to be a scientist the first step is being passionate! You should love the animals which you work on and be keen to find the new things about them,’ she says.

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