'We study together, have fun together and our work contributes to a shared goal...'
Studying towards a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biochemistry
The opportunity to work in an exciting, developing field and ‘contribute to the welfare of society in general’ drives Yifei’s enthusiasm for her studies.
‘Science has interested me since I was little,’ she explains. ‘From primary school to university, what really caught my intense attention and interest was studying the biochemical processes in living organisms, especially human beings. This aroused my passion to pursue a greater and deeper understanding about the biochemical mystery of life.’
Currently in her honours year, Yifei is relishing the opportunity to progress from undergraduate to more research-orientated study.
‘What I enjoy most as an honours student is that I have the opportunity to design, conduct, and process my own research project in an area that has not been studied previously. This is the most exciting component of my degree and it keeps me very passionate everyday working in the lab.
‘I love working as a team with my professor, postdocs, PhD students and other fourth-year students. We study together, have fun together and our work contributes to a shared goal.’
Yifei’s long-term goal is to continue to conduct new research, working as an industrial biochemist to develop new drugs.
Originally from Luoynang in Henan Province, China, Yifei took a year out after high school to travel around America. Her experiences of meeting new people and learning about different cultures and languages convinced her to pursue her university studies overseas. She was attracted to UC not only by the academic opportunities on offer, but also by ‘the interesting student life and unique Kiwi culture’ she had heard about from relatives and friends in Canterbury.
Yifei has actively sought out some of the many support services available to students at UC. ‘The staff here are very, very helpful,’ she says. ‘They are so friendly. I often get invaluable advice from my professors on my degree plan and study progress. I have also had help with job hunting from the Careers and Internships team. Then there are the scholarships and exchange opportunities, and some interesting clubs. All I need to do is to ask.’
Yifei has won several UC scholarships and taken part in the UC Exchange programme at the University of California, San Diego, crediting courses she took there to her undergraduate degree.
The challenges of studying in a second language are great, but Yifei simply sees this as another interesting facet of her degree.
‘Fourth year study is very different from undergrad study – it’s all about communication. I think that communicating your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions with the right people is the most important part of studying as a postgrad student,’ she says.
‘I did find it challenging at the beginning as a non-native English speaker, however it is really great practice for both my study and my career. Science needs to be communicated. With honours, I can practise my communication skills by presenting research articles, giving talks about my project, and discussing research progress with staff.’
When she is not working, Yifei likes to paint – something she can do wherever she is in the world. A talented artist, she works in Chinese ink and wash, as well as with oils, and she has won several Chinese art awards.