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UC Choice


16 October 2023





Coming from Palmerston North, why did you choose UC?

One of the big reasons is that the campus is really nice and outdoorsy, with beautiful trees and everything centralised in one place. And then of course there's skiing spots and the beach both close by, and Christchurch overall is a great place to live.

You’re studying for your PhD in Microbiology. Tell us what you're working on.

I'm researching how bees might become more susceptible to disease - or more resilient - with certain things that they encounter. So I'm looking at the microbes inside of bees and how they might be altered by things like herbicides, other industrial chemicals, or things that might be inside plants that they may ingest.

That sounds really interesting! What does your research involve?

For my field work, I’ll be collecting native Aotearoa flora and searching for novel antimicrobial compounds and testing them in our extensive facilities. As part of this, I’ll be working closely with mana whenua. We've really been encouraged to develop strong connections with iwi where it's relevant to our research and to form partnerships.

Does collaborating with iwi play a big role in scientific research in Aotearoa?

They really stress the importance of Māori customs and how we need to consider these in our research. We learned about things like tapu and noa, the concepts of sacred and common - making sure when you're harvesting things that you're treating them in an appropriate way. Now I apply that to my interactions going forward.

You really get to know the lecturers and they give you a lot of advice about postgrad or career stuff. They get quite invested. They're very friendly and facilitating and obviously experts in their field.

What’s one thing you really enjoy about your studies?

I did a special topic where I got to do some work for ESR, a Crown Research Institute next to UC. That was really cool. But in particular I love the microbiology labs where you get hands-on experience. They’ve got really good equipment like centrifuges and microscopes. It really facilitates you moving into research.

And what’s the UC student life like?

I love the large student culture, especially clubs. It's a really good way to meet a whole bunch of people that you wouldn't have otherwise met, whether that's postgrads while you're an undergrad, or just people in different degrees. And all these people have something in common, which is always fun.

Speaking of clubs, you’re really involved with BioSoc and the postgrad biology committee. What do they do?

BioSoc holds things like tutorials and workshops for first years, and also social events. We used to do David Attenborough Day where we'd rent out a lecture theatre and play his documentaries. We also held a ball every year. And for the postgrad committee, we organise things like fun social events and thesis writing support. Being on the committee meant I could meet people in different years, but also different disciplines within biology.

You also work as a lab demonstrator – what does that entail?

I make sure students know the equipment and monitor their health and safety while they're using it. I’m there to answer all their questions and help guide their learning with the theory. A lot of them also ask questions about what it's like to be a postgrad, what my plans are, or what courses I did, so it's good to tell them about the pathway I've taken.

What three words sum up your time at UC?

Collaborative. Nature. State-of-the-art.

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