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Student story

Florian Maisonneuve

20 July 2023

"One of the things I enjoyed most about studying at UC was the observatory at Mt. John..."


PhD in Astronomy

Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary)

Learning Advisor, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery

As Dean of Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, Florian is enjoying bringing his beloved physics and astronomy to his students.

"It's a fulfilling job," he says. "Fun, engaging, motivating and thus asking for a lot of energy – but very, very rewarding."

"It's also a very important job, because science education is critical so that we can make collectively informed decisions about society."

Originally from Lyon, France, Florian studied Physics and Astrophysics at Bishop's University, Quebec, Canada, before heading to UC for his PhD.

"I wanted to experience research at the highest level," he explains. "I chose UC after developing good contact with Professor John Hearnshaw before I arrived, and also because of the facilities available at Mt. John in Tekapo. One of the things I enjoyed most about studying at UC was the observatory at Mt. John – the long nights of observation and the great, friendly faces of my supervisors."

Florian says his study underpins what he teaches, "so I am able to answer confidently and comprehensively – almost – all the questions my students ask me! My PhD gave me a deeper understanding of what it means to work scientifically, and I also developed an ability to output large amounts of work under pressure."

After completing his PhD, Florian spent a year at UC's College of Education, qualifying to become a secondary school teacher.

"Working in the field of education is a lot of fun. The best part about it is that you have the freedom to learn new things all the time, and use them in your career. Maybe in 30 years I'll be teaching music?"

Naturally, Florian also recommends studying the area of Physics at university level.

"It's also a lot of fun, and you'll never regret it. Astronomy is of high interest for many people. You get to engage with all of them, answering the weirdest questions about the universe, which frequently throws you back to the textbooks to check your understanding."

Florian likes to spend his spare time with his family and he travels around the country as much as he can.

His career goals are simple: "I want to continue to have lots of fun and enjoy my job, and take any opportunities as and when they arise."

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