'One of the great things about my job is that every day is different...'
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biological Sciences
Master of Science in Biochemistry
PhD in Biochemistry
Scientist – Sales and Application Support, MARS Bioimaging Ltd.
Working as a scientist with MARS Bioimaging, an x-ray imaging system developed in collaboration between UC, University of Otago, and CERN, Hannah feels as though she’s already achieved her ultimate career goals.
‘One of the great things about my job is that every day is different,’ she says. ‘My role is to help other scientists understand how our new imaging technology 3D colour x-ray works and the types of biomedical applications that can be studied using it.’
Being able to travel to international conferences, universities, and hospitals to promote the MARS scanner gives Hannah the exciting task of bringing innovative technology into the medical community.
‘As part of my role I’m also involved in communicating our science. This can be to the public through social media, press releases, or writing grant applications; or to the science community, through writing journal articles or book chapters,’ she says.
‘We get asked all sorts of questions from whether this technology would fit inside a cellphone (no, it won’t) to how fast we scan a mouse (7 minutes). I get to meet a lot of other scientists and it’s really exciting to hear about the different types of research going on within New Zealand and internationally.’
Hannah had wanted to become a scientist since high school, and had her sights set initially on a career in chemistry. However after taking courses in Biological Sciences in her first year of the Bachelor of Science, she discovered her passion in Biochemistry that she has carried throughout undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UC.
She advises others to find and study what they enjoy most, and to focus on building skills around this in research analysis and communication.
‘In my final year of my undergrad studies, I did a summer paper on Forensic Biochemistry. It was a great experience and was completely different to any of my other papers as it was case-study based, mixed with a lot of practical lab work. I would highly recommend summer courses as a way to do something relevant to your degree, but a little bit different.’
Following the BSc, Hannah proceeded into postgraduate Biochemistry studies with a master’s and PhD degree, gaining support for the latter with an industry-funded scholarship.
‘I was very lucky to work in a brand-new lab with completely modern facilities for my MSc, and now I work in the new Ernest Rutherford building,’ she says.
‘The Academic Skills Centre was a lifesaver when it came to thesis work. They have such great courses on grammar, using Word for long documents, and just how to approach thesis writing in general.’
Having carried out many job roles in the industry during study, Hannah found her degrees opened up lots of opportunities for her to apply her skills to the real world.
‘One of the things that surprised me is the number of positions having a science degree opened up. It was the critical thinking and analytical skills, rather than the direct information that I learnt in the degree that was most useful. This has meant I’ve had a wide range of jobs from R&D at Resene Paints, to working with engineers to collect detailed building safety information after the earthquakes, and now working with an interdisciplinary team of physicists, computer scientists, and radiologists.’
Juggling her exciting career and young family, Hannah hopes to build on her experiences and eventually go into science advisory roles in the research industry.