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Student story

Regine Morgenstern

20 July 2023

"I really enjoy being able to read the landscape wherever I go..." 


It was the earthquakes in Christchurch that set Regine on the path of Geology studies at university, drawing out a newfound passion for the world.

“As devastating as it was, especially because I was in the CBD during the February 2011 earthquake, I was fascinated by what forces were responsible for such an event,” she says.

“Then, the more I read about the different disciplines and courses offered within Geology at UC, the more I knew it was for me – from earthquakes, volcanoes and mineral deposits to landscape evolution and environmental change, I wanted to learn it all!”

During her master’s degree, Regine spent her time collecting rock samples from the field and analysing them in the lab, going towards her thesis on the protection of beneficial mineral resources.

Born in Germany and raised in New Zealand, Regine’s love for the outdoors gave studying at UC an added bonus from the local region, including outside of the classroom.

“I liked how spacious the campus is and love the location – it is perfect for most people that love the outdoors, with nearby activities such as surfing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, etc. I spent most of my time surfing at Sumner and hiking or mountain biking around the Port Hills with friends.”

Naturally, heading out into the field to investigate rock specimens and formations was Regine’s favourite part of study, from field trips in her undergraduate years to her master’s thesis.

“The best part of Geology is the field trips! Going into a career where I am able to work outdoors had a huge influence on my choice of degree!” she says. “I also really enjoy being able to read the landscape wherever I go and being able to understand what environments the rocks were formed in and what geological processes have affected them since.

“Never forget your boots or rock hammer. Also don’t forget to appreciate the story that each rock tells, the geological timescale is an immense concept to try and wrap our small human brains around!”

Back at UC, Regine made use of UC’s Postgrad Students’ Association and the RockSoc Geology club (‘a great place to meet new people and make closer connections within the department’), and especially the Academic Skills Centre.

“I have found them immensely useful! They have taught me the correct way to reference, paraphrase, structure sentences, and write an essay, as well as general spelling and grammar. I would definitely not have done as well at university without them, that’s a fact, and I recommend for every single student at UC to make the most of them!”

Her passion for knowledge is reflected in a large number of scholarship awards she’s received throughout both undergraduate and postgraduate study, including UC Summer Research and UC Senior Scholarships, a NZ Federation of Graduate Women (Inc) Canterbury Branch Trust Board Master’s Scholarship, and a Freemasons University Scholarship.

She has also received significant awards towards her research; with a Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust grant, a Geoscience Society of NZ S.J. Hastie Scholarship, and a Todd Foundation Award for Excellence all recognising the importance of her thesis.

These experiences so far have inspired her to continue research in various other areas within geological sciences.

“I want my career in geology to be as diverse as possible and to contain many aspects of what I was taught throughout my tertiary education,” she says. “The small details are by all means important, but keeping a broader perspective on how the pieces fit together is also crucial in understanding the Earth, especially when you think about how inter-related the natural sciences are.

“Ultimately I want to become a researcher and use my skills to see the world.”

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