UC Connect: Testing the limits of science and adventure

Presenter: Dr Sarah Kessans
  • Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2020 to Wednesday, 4 March 2020
  • Time: 07:00PM to 08:00PM
  • Location: C1, Central Lecture Theatres, University of Canterbury, Ilam Campus
  • Ticket: Free

UC Connect: Testing the limits of science and adventure

In an upcoming UC Connect public lecture, University of Canterbury (UC) academic Dr Sarah Kessans will share the lessons learned from a life of science and adventure, testing the limits of the human spirit, from rowing the Atlantic to launching a space laboratory.

Dr Kessans is a lecturer, biochemist, synthetic biologist, and a multi-national champion in rowing.

Register to come along to UC’s Ilam campus on Wednesday 4 March to hear her stories of overcoming challenges, learning from trans-Atlantic failures, pursuing deep-space dreams, and how the lessons from her adventures are similar to those learned in university life.

Dr Sarah Kessans is a lecturer in UC’s multidisciplinary School of Product Design. Now a proud Kiwi, Sarah came to New Zealand from the United States, where she earned degrees in plant biology and molecular biology at Arizona State University and worked to develop a plant-based HIV vaccine.

In 2005, between her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Sarah and teammate Emily Kohl competed as the youngest female team in the fully self-supported, 5000km Woodvale Events Atlantic Rowing Race. After 46 days at sea, Sarah and Emily’s boat capsized in 10-metre waves and 30-knot winds, 1400 miles from land. The pair spent over 16 hours clinging to the upturned hull before being rescued by the British tall ship Stavros S. Niarchos. Undeterred, Sarah and Emily joined Tara Remington and Jo Davies (both of whom had also failed to finish the race in 2005) to become Team Unfinished Business in the 2007 Woodvale Events Atlantic Rowing Race, finishing in 51 days and breaking the previous women’s fours world record by a full 17 days.

Inspired by new perspectives gained during her progression through NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate selection process, Sarah has initiated several projects that are providing the foundation for New Zealand's space biotechnology industry, with the goal of supporting life both on and off the Earth.

Recently, Dr Kessans has been funded $500,000 to take biochemistry to new heights. MBIE’s Catalyst: Strategic Space 2019 fund will support her to develop nanosatellites for protein crystallisation over the next three years. Dr Kessans and her team of researchers will work on developing nanosatellites and biological payloads.

Early bird registration will commence four weeks out from lecture date and will be available until all places are full. A second allocation of tickets will be available 10 days prior to the lecture. If you do not manage to register, you are welcome to arrive on the day and wait for all available seats to be released five minutes prior to the lecture commencing.
The UC Connect public lecture series offers the community the opportunity to attend topical, interesting, educational lectures on a range of topics given by experts in their fields. To receive notifications on upcoming UC Connect speakers, join our mailing list.http://canterbury.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=cd05861f83497e0ea049c7b17&id=cbe60119c0
All UC Connect lectures are recorded and uploaded to our You Tube channel here (approx. uploaded 1 -2 weeks post event). https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1D0DE06F56864BA4


“Conducting biological experiments in space allows for both a more complete understanding of life on Earth and the development of life support capabilities which will enable advanced human space exploration and future off-Earth habitation,” she says.

In 2019 Dr Kessans gave a TEDxChristchurch talk: How to eat ketchup on Mars.

UC Connect public lecture: Science and adventure – testing the limits presented by Dr Sarah Kessans, School of Product Design, College of Engineering, University of Canterbury, 7pm – 8pm, Wednesday 4 March  – in C1, Central Lecture Theatres, Ilam campus, UC.  Register to attend free.

Media queries to:

UC Communications team, media@canterbury.ac.nz, Phone: 03 369 3631 or 027 503 0168.



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