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Student story

Eric Richards

20 July 2023

"Biotechnology is becoming an important field with many exciting applications..."


Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Biotechnology

Master of Science in Biochemistry

Business Analyst, Philips Healthcare, The Netherlands

The chemical properties of the health-boosting enzymes found in the humble kiwifruit was the focus of Eric’s Master of Science thesis.

"I researched the stability and structure of various bioactive proteins and how different chemical and physical environments might affect their activity," he explains. "I analysed the product processing line to see if optimisation may be accessible which could increase the amount of active enzymes present in the exported product."

Eric’s project was a collaboration with a biotechnology company with interests in the lucrative ‘neutraceuticals’ industry. Thanks to a Callaghan Innovation scholarship, he was able to work in the labs of UC’s Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) which fosters partnerships between academic research and industry.

Eric says the real-world uses for such research make it a fascinating area to work in.

"Biotechnology is becoming an important field with many exciting applications," he says. "I hope to make a contribution in this field and help to provide solutions that will benefit society as well as the environment."

It is this interest in the environment that first prompted Eric to study Science at university.

"I enjoy outdoor activity and this has helped me appreciate the need for scientific research. I always liked studying science at high school, and understanding biological processes at a molecular level has always fascinated me. Biochemistry has a pleasant mix of molecular biology and chemistry that lets me satisfy my curiosity."

"The Biochemistry department at UC is well-suited for protein science research," Eric says. "The new Biology research and office buildings provide a professional atmosphere to continue researching." He adds that the standard of teaching is excellent, "no matter what level a student is at."

Having spent his early childhood in Christchurch, Eric’s family moved to Nelson where he attended high school. Moving on to university was the perfect opportunity to shift back to his home town as an adult.

"Returning to Christchurch was something I always wanted to do because I enjoy the city and its surroundings. UC’s campus has everything you need and the services make studying there easy, plus there is so much to do outside of study."

That free time is precious to Eric, who spent most of it training and playing Ultimate Frisbee for regional and national teams.

Following from study at UC, Eric went into the business industry with Macpac, and was quickly promoted to Export Manager to grow the company’s international presence.

"This was a great experience because I got to be a part of a brand that I had tested in the outdoors throughout my life, as well as having the chance to become exposed to an international business environment,’ he says. ‘In this role I formed new international partnerships with UK and US businesses, and strengthened relationships with Japanese and European distributors through design and marketing collaborations."

After a few years, Eric went onto work as a Business Analyst within the healthcare division of corporate giant Philips, based in The Netherlands. His role assists clients with integrating a wide range of medical and healthcare technologies within their services.

"I really enjoyed the applied aspect of my research project at UC and I still wanted to keep solving problems with whatever I pursued," he says.

"Here I am assisting with the roll out of a new global software for automating customer service operations in Africa. Despite being in a completely different environment I have found that I am able to quickly adapt and find solutions to the problems they have. By taking a hands-on approach I am able to really make a difference here. It is also nice to continue adding value to a company which strives to innovate and create high-quality products."

"In the future, I am looking forward to further using data analysis to transform businesses into having more efficient operational procedures."

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