Science student stories
Matt Illing, Advanced Science
Matt is studying for his Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) in Environmental Change. He’s also on the Science Scholars programme.
I saw the breadth of School of Environment courses here at Auckland and the facilities available. It would have been a mistake to go anywhere else!
A lot of freedom
“I’ve always been passionate about the science of our changing climate. When I was deciding what to study, I found that it was impossible to pick only one or two majors. Studying Environmental Change means that I can take my pick of courses from Geography, Earth Sciences, Environmental Science, Marine Science and more! This freedom really drew me to the programme.”
“The University of Auckland is the only university that offers the unique Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) and all its perks. It’s also the best university in New Zealand for Geography and the Environmental Sciences. I saw the breadth of School of Environment courses here at Auckland and the facilities available. It would have been a mistake to go anywhere else!”
“My interests and motivation lie with Environmental Science, but the programme is equally appealing to students across the board. In fact there are 13 specialisations available.
“I’d like to continue through to postgraduate study. The programme really promotes this pathway. For instance, in your fourth year you get to collaborate and conduct research with an academic mentor. The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) programme can lead straight onto PhD study, which is really appealing to me. I am really interested in studying climate change and its effects, past, present and future. I hope that one day I will be able to undertake research that will help humanity fight climate change.”
Mahima Seth, Science
Mahima is a Bachelor of Science graduate, currently enrolled in the BSc Honours programme.
I didn’t begin my degree with a clear career path. You can’t go on SEEK and look up ‘jobs for physicists’. I had to think very carefully.
“Geophysics attracted me because I was interested in the environmental impacts of human activity and ways in which the earth’s surface geology tells us stories about its past.
“I didn’t begin my degree with a clear career path. You can’t go on SEEK and look up ‘jobs for physicists’. I had to think very carefully. I hoped my studies would lead to employment somewhere like NIWA or GNS.”
“Ultimately, I would love to work for NASA and apply my geophysics knowledge to learn more about other planets. But I would be equally happy to move into a different sector. I did an internship at Price Waterhouse Coopers in the Digital Forensics team in the summer of 2021/22. I really enjoyed that and used a lot of the coding skills I’d learnt earlier.
“I was recently awarded the Dennis Brown Experimental physics prize for my work in PHYSICS 390 (Experimental Physics). I didn’t really expect to win. Some of my peers had achieved better marks, but my lecturers valued me for more than my grades. That shows the progressive thinking in the Physics Department – and at the core of science itself.”
“Geophysics acts as a nice complement to Physics. Physics provided me with a solid foundation for learning about the earth, atmosphere and oceans in geophysics. I also like the broad nature of what I study because I’m not restricted to one industry or career. It certainly made finding work a little harder, but I’ve had a job offer even before graduating!”
Jessie Houston, Science
Jessie is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science programme, majoring in Psychology.
I love to learn about why people do the things they do – and how we can use this knowledge to understand
“Choosing my major was hard but I have always had an interest in psychology and wanted this to be the main focus of my degree. I love to learn about why people do the things they do – and how we can use this knowledge to understand everyday behaviours. Eventually I’d love to become a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
“I’ve really enjoyed my assignments. In PSYCH 108 we wrote an essay about an activity or environment that allows us to flourish as an individual. It allowed me to discuss a subject I was passionate about. I really enjoyed this assignment and put a lot of time and effort into it. I also love the selection of PSYCH papers you are able to choose from in stage 2 and 3 of the programme.
Leadership through Learning
“I am of NZ European and Tongan descent, so last semester I had the opportunity to be a part of an amazing programme called Leadership Through Learning. It’s a leadership development programme for students of Māori and Pacific background across all disciplines at the University.
“I met some amazing people and developed many leadership skills. I also learnt about the cultures that make up the indigenous community at the University, which I now feel part of. The amazing coordinators and tutors in this programme become your whānau at the University, creating a space that brings a sense of belonging and aroha. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to be a part of it.”
Renuka Mahadevan, Science
Renuka wrote this profile near the end of her time as an undergraduate Science student in 2018. She’s now studying to become a doctor through Auckland’s MBChB programme.
I anticipate that my degree will give me the opportunity for further study in the field of exercise sciences, bioengineering or medicine.
“I was injured while playing sport at an elite level so I have a special interest in the causes, prevention and rehabilitation of sporting injury. There’s a comprehensive subject choice within the BSc programme, and my Exercise Sciences major includes many sub-disciplines that can be used to enhance both peak performance and health. I anticipate that my degree will give me the opportunity for further study in the field of exercise sciences, bioengineering or medicine.”
An expanding field
“The increasing focus on exercise for health makes it an expanding field with exciting research opportunities. It’s not only about improving athletic performance. We also explore how movement can improve the lives of people with conditions such as stroke and cardiometabolic diseases.
“I’ve developed a number of skills that will be valuable in any field, for example, critical review and analysis of information, problem solving, data collection, scientific writing and presentation. Also, my Summer Research Scholarship gave me a taste of practical research and some insight into what the life of an academic involves.”
A great learning community
“I like the department’s community feel, which makes it easy to get to know classmates and lecturers. The teaching staff are all very approachable and willing to help you succeed.”
Student disability services
“I have used Disability Services to facilitate my learning and succeed academically. To support students with impairments, they offer many services, such as special testing conditions and designated study rooms.”