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Student story

Helena Ruffell

20 July 2023

"I want to become an environmental scientist or biochemist to help identify hazards..."


Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Master of Science in Environmental Science

Studying towards a PhD in Environmental Science

Helena's inspiration behind study is to protect and enrich the world we live in, by tackling the issue at a molecular level.

"After hearing about how much danger our daily way of life is causing on human and environmental health and knowing that most of this can be avoided, it really inspired me to want to learn how to help," she says.

Helena found undergraduate study in Biochemistry to be exactly what she needed for understanding human-environment interaction.

"Biochemistry is the basis of life – everything comes from or is related to it, and for us to survive, we need to be able to protect the absolute basics of how we live. I want to become an environmental scientist or biochemist to help identify hazards to human and environmental health, and to provide a more sustainable future for all inhabitants."

Enrolling with a UC Merit Scholarship for her NCEA results, Helena spent her first years staying in Arcady Hall and later Ilam Apartments halls of residence for the social life on campus, her main reason for choosing to study here.

"The student community and support given was the most appealing. I like how friendly and helpful all the staff and students are, and are always making time to help each other out."

At the beginning of her master's study in Environmental Science, Helena carried out summer research with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) through a UC Summer Research Scholarship, an opportunity helping her have a direct impact on environmental analysis while still studying.

Helena is working with Dr Louise Weaver, a senior scientist who specialises in groundwater resources, and is helping her investigation into assessing groundwater health and reducing potential contaminants in water caused by farming and waste.

"I am really enjoying the experience, it is a field of work which is unfamiliar to me (data analysis and computer coding) and I have learned so much from it," she says. "I have really enjoyed working in a "real" office setting to help get an idea of what a full time job would be like."

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