Notable alumni

  • biology ralph bungard of three boys brewery

    Former lecturer in Biological Sciences Ralph Bungard has established one of New Zealand's leading craft beer breweries and says science can lead you in unexpected directions.

Biology can take you in many directions. Our graduates and former staff can be found in a variety of careers around the world.

Ralph Bungard, managing director, Three Boys Brewery

Former Biological Sciences lecturer Dr Ralph Bungard believes the advantage of a science background is the ability to work through any issue that pops up.
“You’re never stumped. No problem is insurmountable.”
He has taught at UC and worked as a scientist in the UK, but Ralph is now the managing director of Three Boys Brewery, started as a garage enterprise in 2005 and now one of New Zealand’s leading craft beer breweries.
It’s a role that his science skills and qualifications have prepared him well for. There’s an obvious link with brewing, but Ralph also says scientists and entrepreneurship are a good combination.
It’s the analytical, problem-solving capacity of scientists that gives them the edge.
His advice to students is not to get too “bogged down” in the actual subjects they are studying.
“It’s the fact that you are doing it at all. Science has that broader skill base. Biological Sciences in particular is a really nice combination of all the sciences – physical, chemistry, ecological – it gives you a nice outlook and appreciation of all aspects of science.”

  • For more information on where a degree in Biological Sciences can take you see UC Careers

Inspirational Alumni

The UC Biological Sciences Inspirational Alumni award recognises alumni who have made outstanding professional achievements and who have had a positive impact on our community or society. We celebrate trailblazers in their fields whose success and service are a source of inspiration to those that follow.

Our Inspirational Alumni inductees are drawn from a range of alumni who have made a significant contribution.

Jane uses computer simulations to explore how biological molecules move and interact. Her research bridges the gap between computational predictions and experimental observations, and she has pioneered the use of structural modelling and simulation to investigate evolutionary relationships. Jane regularly communicates her research to a wide range of different audiences and is a strong advocate for early career researchers.

Hugh is a world-renowned botanist, conservationist and cyclist. He has written and illustrated over a dozen books, including field guides to the wild plants of Mount Cook National Park and Stewart Island and the richly illustrated Plant Life on Banks Peninsula. Hugh manages Hinewai Reserve on Banks Peninsula, a privately owned nature reserve. 

As a conservation biologist, Sara is interested in farming landscapes and human-wildlife conflicts and was also a founding member of the Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust. Her PhD research at UC focused on the efficacy of reintroducing the threatened New Zealand falcon into the vineyards of New Zealand’s largest wine region as both a conservation scheme and as a source of natural pest control. 

Craig is Professor in Zoology and Deputy Head in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland (UQ) and Executive Director of UQ Research Ethics. The focus of his research is the investigation of the responses of organisms to changing environmental conditions. He is Director of Research at Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and his lab is running a tracking study on estuarine crocodiles in Queensland. 

Morgan completed 10 years as NZ’s second Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in 2007. Prior to this he held research and policy roles in agriculture and represented NZ research interests internationally. The driving force behind Morgan’s efforts has been his great interest in how people think about and relate to the natural world – particularly political, social and economic matters that influence understanding of sustainable development and thus the management of our natural capital. 

Shelley started EOS Ecology — an aquatic science and visual communication company — soon after graduating from UC and has grown it into a company well-respected for its commitment to exacting standards and creative science communication. Recognised for her expertise in the impacts of urbanisation on aquatic fauna and the rehabilitation of aquatic systems, Shelley was selected as the Ecology Technical Lead for two key Anchor Projects aimed at revitalising Christchurch following the earthquakes — Te Papa Otākaro/Avon River Precinct (ARP) and the Northern/Eastern Frame. 

Ian is one of the world’s top authorities on polar bears and his long-term studies have confirmed the negative effects of climate warming and loss of sea ice is having on the species. His career as a research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service spanned 37 years following his PhD studies at UC where he investigated population ecology of Weddell seals in Antarctica. “The opportunities I had while at UC to conduct research on Weddell seals in Antarctica and fur seals around the coast of New Zealand set the stage for a lifetime in polar research and provided the background of understanding that enabled me to frame aspects of ecological research in the Arctic in a broader polar context ..."

During Margaret's time as Minister of Research Science and Technology, and Chair of Education and Science Select Committee she invigorated the science system through structural changes. She is past Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, and President of Chairs of UNESCO National Commissions World Wide. Margaret led the Tekapo Starlight Project which resulted in the International Dark Sky Association awarding the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve Gold Status, just one of five in the world. 

Tim is a rising star in his research area of evolutionary genetics. His graduate work started him on the journey of distinguishing between the current utility of genes and the selection and function that determined their evolutionary histories. His research has married the powerful new technologies of genomics with evolution, tracing the critical and sometimes unexpected combinations of changes a genome has had to make in cells that survive over evolutionary time. Tim has a dynamic research group of his own at Houston. 

David’s research explores how climate change, forest fires and species invasions and losses affect important functions in ecosystems. Since 2006, David has been Professor of Soil and Plant Ecology in the Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå, Sweden. He is one of the world’s 20 most cited scientists in ecology and environmental sciences.


To nominate an outstanding graduate use our Nomination form for Inspirational Alumni - biology.