Michelle has been able to combine her fascination of DNA with her passion for the beauty and mystery of the ocean by studying a PhD in Marine Science with a focus on molecular ecology.
“My favourite part of the programme so far is the outstanding support of the Marine Biosecurity Team at Cawthron, and the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Auckland."
“I have always been fascinated by how much you can learn from DNA, and by the beauty and mystery of the ocean. My area of interest allows me to combine these two passions; I am studying a Ph.D. in Marine Science with a focus on molecular ecology. My thesis is ‘Optimization of Molecular-Based Marine Biosecurity Surveillance’, which I hope to complete in October 2024. During my project, I will explore the use of molecular techniques to help protect our marine environment. I received the Cawthron Academic Scholarship to help with my study.
“My favourite part of the programme so far is the outstanding support of the Marine Biosecurity Team at Cawthron, and the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Auckland. I am very fortunate to be working with a fantastic group of people with such impressive and extensive backgrounds. They have always made me feel a part of the team, and work hard to help me meet my goals.
“Overall, working at the Cawthron Institute has been a great experience. The ability to work in an institute that is completing world-class research with a diverse group of scientists allows for so many opportunities. You have the potential to work with people outside of academia, expanding your network both in and out of New Zealand. A significant benefit is observing many dedicated people driving multiple projects from various sectors, all focused on making substantial differences regionally, nationally, and globally. Being a part of this collaborative group of institutes gives you a more comprehensive window into ongoing research across New Zealand.
“I am confident that my thesis will allow me to build on my current scientific skills and learn how to apply new skill sets such as metabarcoding, bioinformatics, and next-generation sequencing to real-world applications. I aim to positively impact this field and make a lasting contribution to the scientific community.
“For those who might be thinking about applying for to study at a Joint Graduate School, I think it’s worth considering, as many will have multiple Ph.D. students, so you will still have the chance to socialize with your peers. Living in Nelson is excellent, as we have three research institutes nearby; Plant & Food Science, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Cawthron. The students here have built a student group, which allows us to connect between institutes and expand our network. I have met many great people through this group, developing friendships which have supported my transition to Nelson and Cawthron.
“I would say it’s important to recognize that it may be a slightly different experience than completing research on campus, or exclusively with the University. I think it is essential that you have a supportive team at your research institute, and that you like the location and the institute before considering a position. Although you may have a different experience to other Ph.D. students, I’ve found the additional opportunities from the partnership between the University of Auckland and the Cawthron Institute absolutely worth it!"