Bonnie Humphrey

'I really love the atmosphere at UC, when I'm on campus I feel like I'm at home...'

  • Bonnie Humphrey

(Te Āti Awa)

Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and Psychology

Studying towards a Master of Science in Biological Sciences

Research Assistant, UC

After discovering an interest in genetics during high school, Bonnie found her calling investigating the science around behaviours through Psychology and Biological Sciences.

She initially started her university studies at Otago University before transferring to UC, with a particular unique course in neurons, hormones and behaviour being ‘the nail in the coffin’.

‘I learned I could transfer credits easily from the papers I had done so far,’ she says. ‘I really love the atmosphere at UC, when I'm on campus I feel like I'm at home. Every day I appreciate how beautiful the surroundings are and I find myself travelling through it even if I'm not working or studying that day.’

For the final year of her undergraduate degree, Bonnie was given a UC International Mobility Outbound Exchange Award, and had the incredible opportunity to finish her studies on an exchange to the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

‘I highly recommend it. UC gave me a travel grant without me even applying for it,’ she says. ‘It was a great experience - you get to travel while finishing your degree. Full-time students often feel like they are missing out on travelling, but with an exchange you really get the best of both worlds.’

Bonnie’s current master’s research investigates animal behaviour, through lab testing of jumping spiders. The spiders have given her a new appreciation for the complexity of other creatures.

‘I love seeing different “personalities” or individual characteristics in the jumping spiders; these tiny wee animals with a few thousand neurons have captivated me - despite being terrified of them a few years ago. Some spiders are “shy”, some are jittery, others are aggressive and will consistently attack the paintbrush every time I lure them out, it’s funny.’

It can sometimes be challenging, and Bonnie has found that her days occasionally vary in how much she can accomplish towards her study. Finding a balance is something she advises postgraduate students consider when getting the results they need.

‘Ironically, studying has made me realize when to stop studying. I've learnt to become satisfied with whatever amount of work I've achieved on a given day. Acknowledging that different days elicit different results has helped me become content with handling the pressure of writing a thesis.’

Bonnie hopes to carry onto PhD study eventually, preferably in research around dog behaviour. Whatever animal she ends up focusing on, Bonnie is determined to study what she finds inspiring, to make the most of the opportunity.

‘You need to be interested to stay motivated at uni, and to be interested is to pursue what you love,’ she says.

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