Choose Science. Change the world.

A careers event like no other.

Choose Science 2021

With science, anything is possible. A science degree can open doors to all sorts of careers, all over the world.

If you are thinking about studying science at university, but not sure where it can lead, UC’s Choose Science careers evening will help you. Hear from inspiring UC Science graduates, meet our current students and find out about career opportunities in science.

The 2021 event has occurred, but you can watch the live stream.

Meet our 2021 speakers

philipp sueltrop uc engineering graduate

The space man: Hans Philipp Sueltrop

Engineering and exploration are two of Hans' favourite things. It's also what he does for a job as an aeronautics engineer. "Working in the aerospace field is a perfect combination of two things I love - engineering and exploration, where you have to push the boundaries of what is known and currently possible."

Hans is the Chief Technology Officer at Kea Aerospace - an aerospace technology start-up based in Christchurch. "I love the diversity of the job from design work on a computer to manufacturing in a lab and flight testing outside - and also the business side of things."

He's currently developing an unmanned, fully solar-powered, high-altitude fixed wing aircraft. When completed, the aircraft will fly in the stratosphere at around 20km altitude and operate for days or weeks per flight. With a wingspan of over 30m it will likely be the largest unmanned aircraft designed in the Southern Hemisphere. "We are doing something fairly new - no one has been commercially operating solar powered stratospheric aircraft so far."

Hans began his career with a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering before completing a Masters in Action and Astronautics engineering and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC. He says UC was the only place in the world where he could work on rocket control systems in a non-military context. His advice to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps? "Don't just do your normal courses. You have to get your hands dirty. Find additional projects and work with good teams."

lisa hse uc science graduate

The optimist: Lisa Hsu

Lisa is a researcher at the New Zealand-China Water Research Centre based in Christchurch. She has a PhD in Molecular Microbiology and a Master of Science in Biochemistry. Her passion is water quality.

As a scientist and an optimist, Lisa doesn't let the issues facing our environment get her down. Instead, she sees them as challenges to overcome. "I always feel excited when thinking about the future, and how we can solve bigger problems, such as climate change and nitrate problem in our drinking water."

While she's concerned about serious issues like nitrate contamination in our drinking water, she believes it can be solved with science. "My career goal is to eliminate nitrate from drinking water and at the same time develop ecosystem approach for a sustainable healthy agri-ecosystems for New Zealand."

Lisa's currently involved in a several different research projects and finds her work incredibly interesting. "I don't consider "research" a job, in fact, it is my passion. I'm curious about everything around me - from how nature works to why nature works that way."

She enjoys being able to explore different methods to test her hypothesis and says the beauty of scientific research is that it provides fundamental information and knowledge of how nature works to help us solve difficult problems - based on evidence. "Science is a beautiful subject, it is intellectually challenging, and it makes me feel alive!"

ray hidayat uc engineering graduate

The Tech Expert: Ray Hidayat

Ray is a software engineering manager at Verizon Connect, one of the world’s largest telematics providers. Telematics is an interdisciplinary field encompassing telecommunications, vehicle technologies and computer science. Ray and his team are currently working on developing “the world’s best commercial vehicle routing software” to help companies become more efficient.

Ray’s journey into telematics began as a child when he first learned about computer programming and, “I was hooked ever since”.

He began his formal education at Lincoln University, with double degree studies in Applied Computing and Business Management. He then went on to pursue a PhD in Computer Science at UC, with support from a UC Doctoral Scholarship.

His research thesis involved creating a standard deviation ridge algorithm that can better detect boundaries, or edges, in images over other industry programmes. The algorithm is able to ignore unimportant edges in an image, such as individual hairs, and emphasise the important edges, such as the outline of a person’s face, more accurately and in real-time. 

"My degree gave me a strong foundation on which to build my career upon. Even something as specific as Computer Science has a vast range of topics to cover within it, and learning to navigate that landscape has given me hooks in which to place new knowledge and understand how it fits in the bigger picture."

"Learn by doing," he says. "Learning programming is like riding a bike, someone could explain all the theory of Newtonian mechanics to you, but ultimately the only way to learn is to do it."

He hopes his career will "improve the lives of many" as he continues to develop programmes that support industry.

Athira Krishnakumar Nair profile pic

The data detective: Athira Krishnakumar Nair

Athira began her career in the IT sector after completing a Bachelor of Science in Statistics in her home country of India.

Her interest in data modelling, AI and machine learning grew after working with big corporates like Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and Hindustan Unilever.

After completing a Master's in Applied Data Science at UC, Athira went straight to work as a data scientist at Pyper Vision - an aviation technology start-up. The company has recently developed game-changing drone-based technology that clears the fog from airports so aircrafts can move without fog interruptions. "I am immensely proud to be a part of such a talented, fun and motivated team that is dedicated to making an impact in the industry."

Athira's role involves analysing weather data and deriving the impact of fog, its daily disruptions towards flight schedules, and financial impact on airport, airlines and local businesses.

"The thing I love the most about my job is that every day I have new challenges to tackle, which has helped me grow professionally. I have developed my critical thinking and gained a plethora of practical knowledge which I would have never achieved following a typical comfortable data analysis approach."

flynn adcock profile

The re-inventor: Flynn Adcock

From working in retail to researching RNA - Flynn Adcock has come a long way in a few years. Flynn has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and is currently studying towards a Master of Science in Biochemistry. He is also a lab technician at the Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust.

Before getting into science he worked in retail management - a job that paid well but didn't provide the job satisfaction he was after.

"Working in a retail environment was an okay job and paid well, however this lifestyle becomes stagnant and I found myself becoming complacent in my perspective on life.  I knew if I wanted to be continuously satisfied, I'd have to come to university and purse a career that way."

He was worried that as an adult student, university was going to be intimidating. However, it was the opposite. "I was 7 years older than the first-year's when I first started and thought this may be a barrier to making friends and study groups. But it wasn't - the culture is really welcoming."

He also discovered benefits to being an adult student.  "You're not afraid to speak up or be outgoing." To prepare for the transition from working life to uni study, Flynn enrolled in the Certificate of University Preparation Course (CUP). "This was great for an adult student as I never took science papers at high school. I would recommend it to any students who had a rocky year 13 - especially if you're entering a field that requires prerequisite knowledge like engineering."

It was while doing the CUP course that he discovered an interested in biochemistry - and the rest is history! "I went from working in retail to studying postgraduate microbiology - it can be done!"

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Where to go

Free parking will be available in the Clyde Car Park. From there, make your way to the Central Lecture Theatres (see red map pins below).