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Our People

Student and Graduate Profiles

Our Science and Engineering students come from a range of academic and personal backgrounds, and end up in a diverse range of positions. Read below about the dynamic experiences and opportunities a selection of our current students and graduates are undertaking.


Laura Hines

Laura Hines

BSc; MSc(Research) in Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences

Chemistry and Microbiology Laboratory Technician
Tatua Cooperative Dairy Company

“It’s not just about the learning.”

Although Laura Hines says that University is not just about the learning, she did a lot of it while she was at the University of Waikato!  Laura completed her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (Research) qualifications doing double majors in both and gaining first class honours in her Masters.

The connections Laura made with both students and lecturers were the highlight of her time at the University of Waikato.  She is now working alongside some of the people she studied with and is sure that her networking during her study helped her to secure her current role.

Laura is working at Tatua Cooperative Dairy Company as a Chemistry and Microbiology Laboratory Technician.  She enjoys the variety her role offers – one day she will be elbow deep in chemistry and the next in microbiology.  Laura has an important role where she tests milk powders and food products to make sure they are within specification and are the highest quality before being released to the customer.  Tatua have given Laura the opportunity to carry out a work based project to determine if improvements can be made on current processes and procedures for thermophile and aerobic plate count tests.

Laura believes that “life is all about your attitude”.  To succeed, she believes that students need to work hard, study hard, have goals and never be afraid to ask questions.


Alice Wang

Alice Wang

BSc(Tech); MSc in Chemistry

Technical Sales Specialist - Asia Pacific Region
Magritek

"This role combines my technical knowledge and people skills to connect with customers throughout the world.”

Waikato Masters Graduate Alice Wang spends a lot of her work life travelling throughout the world.

Alice’s now works at Magritek, a scientific instrument company specialising in compact benchtop NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) technologies. Based in the New Zealand office in Wellington, Alice is the Technical Sales Specialist for the Asia Pacific region and looks after sales activities in the company’s Asian markets.

“The responsibilities including selling our products, managing a network of channel partners, traveling, and attending conferences and exhibitions. This role combines my technical knowledge and people skills to connect with customers throughout the world” says Alice.

Alice, a previous Hillcrest High School student, studied Biochemistry as part of the Bachelor of Science (Technology) Degree and enjoyed it so much that she then went on to complete a Masters of Science in Chemistry. Alice received a number of University and nationwide scholarships to fund her studies and was grateful for the support and approachability of the lecturers.

Alice was also fortunate enough as part of her undergraduate degree to all spend a year in London at Tata Global Beverages for her final work placement in her last year – a real stand out from her time at Waikato.

“The industrial work experience I gained during my final placement was a definite highlight during my study. I learnt a lot of things working with talented people, and gained some skills that couldn’t be taught in a classroom” says Alice.


Fletcher Jackson

Fletcher Jackson

BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Engineer
Vickers Aircraft Company, Hamilton

"Its great that my Bachelor of Engineering degree from Waikato has led me to a job that I am passionate about."

Its great that my Bachelor of Engineering degree from Waikato has led me to a job that I am passionate about. I love flying, so building designing aircrafts is a perfect fit! I am lucky enough to be working as an Engineer at Vickers Aircraft Company, a specialist aircraft developer in Hamilton.  We are currently building the Vickers WaveTM - the latest design of amphibious light sport aircraft. It’s a plane that can be used on land and sea, complete with all the latest technical features and innovations.

My job varies from programming and operating machinery, developing different components of the plane, designing production machinery and helping to set up the company workflow for our expansion. But the team is quite small which means I have a lot to do, but it keeps me busy.

During my studies I got involved in WESMO, a student group that designs and builds a race car each year to race against other universities at the international Formula SAE competition. I was in charge of designing the aerodynamics package for the WESMO car. This involved making composite parts from carbon fibre. I ended up looking for companies to sponsor the project and Vickers Aircraft Company were willing to help. So after working with them to produce the body work for the car I was lucky enough to be offered a full time job.  It was times like this, with the practical projects, summer placements and a culture at Waikato that helped me prepare for industry and land my dream job.

If there is one piece of advice I would give to other students looking to study, it would be to make the most of their time at Waikato and to take risks and try new things. Don't be afraid to take on tasks that seem out of your depth, you’ll surprise yourself with what you can do.


Grace Waters

Grace Waters

BE(Hons) in Chemical and Biological Engineering

Process Engineer
PDV Consultants

“You felt like you were part of a community.  The lecturers knew your name and wanted to help grow you.”

A typical day for Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) graduate, Grace Waters, can be anything but typical.  One day she will be in the office and the next out on site seeing the project through to completion.

Working with a variety of different companies in her role at PDV Consultants means a variety of different challenges every day.  Grace is involved with process engineering design, catering to the food and dairy industry.  She works closely with clients such as Fonterra, Tatua and Dairy Goat, following a project through from its conceptual design stage to the commissioning on site.

Studying Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Waikato helped to develop Grace’s passion for process design.  A summer internship at PDV Consultants further developed her enthusiasm and led to gaining a graduate position with the company on the completion of her degree.

Grace’s highlight of studying at the University of Waikato was the culture within the School of Engineering.  “You felt like you were part of a community.  The lecturers knew your name and wanted to help grow you.”  The student culture within the School of Engineering was also particularly strong and supportive with the students experiencing the same challenges and milestones together.

Grace believes that to succeed students need to find something they are truly passionate about and aim to become their best at it.  This might mean ‘stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in situations that you’d normally shy away from’ but imagine that leading to doing a job that you love every day.


Tasman McKelvey

Tasman McKelvey

BSc(Tech) in Earth Sciences

Environmental Monitoring Technician
Lincoln Agritech Ltd

“The BSc(Tech) is such a flexible and job-orientated degree that incorporates both management as well as science and technology."

The interdisciplinary and systematic study of the earth’s natural resources, environmental systems and processes and natural hazards led Earth Sciences Graduate Tasman McKelvey’s to his role as an Environmental Monitoring Technician for Lincoln Agritech Ltd.

Tasman now works within the environmental group which specialises in research surrounding New Zealand's freshwater resources.

“Currently, the group is focused on the Transfer Pathways Programme (TPP), which aims to quantify pathway-specific transfers of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) within freshwater systems. As part of this, I am heavily involved with set-up and maintenance of environmental monitoring systems, management and flow of data, and data analysis – so that we can better understand, model, and ultimately manage our freshwater systems” says Tasman.

Tasman, who attended both Tuakau College and Mount Maunganui College, completed a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in Earth Science and loved the experience he gained from his practical hands on degree.

“It is such a flexible and job-orientated degree that incorporates both management as well as science and technology. I really enjoyed the degree's flexibility and broad subject scope, as it allowed me to pursue my own interests and provided a more well-rounded understanding of many scientific fields also and the business of science. Waikato also has such a great campus, in an excellent location with fantastic facilities” says Tasman”


Coco Hseuh

Coco Hseuh

BSc(Tech) in Biochemistry

Laboratory Technician
CAIQTEST Pacific

“I wanted a degree that offered me the opportunity to gain both theory knowledge about science and as well as practical work experience, and the BSc(Tech) did that”.

Coco Hseuh, a previous Hamilton High School student, studied a Bachelor of Science(Tech) majoring in biochemistry.

Coco now works as a laboratory technician in the microbiology department of CAIQTEST Pacific (a testing laboratory focussing on goods, mainly dairy products) who export to China.

Coco said one of main reasons she chose to study at Waikato was because of the practical work experience she gained. “I wanted a degree that offered me the opportunity to gain both theory knowledge about science and as well as practical work experience, and the BSc(Tech) did that”.


Anthony Coventry

Anthony Coventry

BSc(Tech) in Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences

Zoo Keeper
Hamilton Zoo

“I really enjoy building relationships and trust with the animals and exciting people about animals."

Hanging out with Rhino’s is just a standard day in the office for Bachelor of Science (Technology) graduate Anthony Coventry. Anthony, a previous Otorohanga College Student, completed his BSc(Tech) in Biology and Earth Sciences at Waikato and now works as a Zoo Keeper at Hamilton Zoo.

“I work in the Undergulates Team, working mostly with Rhinos but also with other animals such as Giraffes, Chimps and Siamangs among others”

“I really enjoy building relationships and trust with the animals and exciting people about animals - inspiring them to look into what they can do to help both local and international conservation groups” says Anthony.

Anthony’s study enabled him to meet a number of people in a range of different industries through his work placements – which ultimately lead him to getting his dream job at Hamilton Zoo.

“I really liked how the BSc(Tech) degree allowed me to have real work experience and connected me with people in the working world from a variety of industries”.


Chris Wakefield

Chris Wakefield

BSc(Tech) in Biochemistry

Honey-testing Team
Manuka Health, Te Awamutu

"By far the best part about my experience at Waikato University was the placements that were organised through the Co-operative Education Unit as part of the BSc(Tech) programme."

St Paul’s student, Chris Wakefield, has been passionate about Chemistry and Biology from a young age so his decision to enroll in Waikato’s Bachelor of Science (Technology) with a biochemistry major was relatively straight-forward.

During his time at the University of Waikato, Chris was fortunate enough to spend 12 months completing a work placement in Montreal Canada. This experience led to his first full-time graduate position at Manuka Health.

“By far the best part about my experience at Waikato University was the placements that were organised through the Co-operative Education Unit as part of the BSc(Tech) programme. I had my first placement in my home town of Tauranga for three months over a summer and I was then lucky enough to be accepted for a 12-month placement in Montreal, Canada. This was an amazing experience where I learnt how a commercial research Lab worked.”

Chris is now part of a 6-person honey-testing team at Manuka Health in Te Awamutu.

“Our lab is split into chemical and microbiology labs. At this location we test 16 different aspects of the honey including activity in Manuka honey (Methylglyoxal), enzyme activity (Diastase) and yeast and mould counts. We also test other New Zealand health products produced by Manuka Health including bioactive compounds in NZ propolis” says Chris.

Chis really enjoyed his time at Waikato which led him to his dream job.


Nicholas Kuan

Nicholas Kuan

BSc(Tech) in Chemistry

Current Student

"I have a real interest in food chemistry and hope to work towards a career in this industry."

With an excellent reputation for chemistry research, a relaxed campus, and a handful of scholarships on offer, former Saint John's College student Nicholas Kuan knew the University of Waikato was the right choice for him.

The opportunity to complete a summer research project after his first year of a BSc(Tech) has been a highlight for Nicholas, who says the new challenges he faced during the study meant he learnt a range of different chemistry techniques in a short period of time. Alongside experts in the field, his research project looked into the antibacterial properties of manuka honey.

The research investigated the limitations of a recently-published method for quantifying dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is one of the components involved when determining the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) of a sample of honey.

"I have a real interest in food chemistry and hope to work towards a career in this industry. However, at the moment I'm focused on learning the fundamentals of chemistry, alongside papers in physics, biological sciences and calculus."


Elizabeth Geddes

Elizabeth Geddes

BE(Hons) in Chemical and Biological Engineering

Process Engineer
PDV Consultants

"Work experience meant I could apply all the theoretical knowledge I had learnt at uni, to exciting real-life engineering situations."

Elizabeth Geddes made her mark on campus, as president of the University of Waikato's Young Engineers Society.

"I chose to study engineering at Waikato because I was able to combine the biological and chemical disciplines of engineering, as well as maths and physics, into one exciting degree."

The former Whangarei Girls' High School student was also chair of the Student Engineers New Zealand student council, showing just how passionate she is about the industry and leadership.

While studying Chemical & Biological Engineering, Elizabeth also enjoyed the work placement component of the degree and describes it as a highlight of her studies.

"Work experience meant I could apply all the theoretical knowledge I had learnt at uni, to exciting real-life engineering situations and has given me a clearer idea of what I want from my career as a professional engineer."


Kirsty Kraakman

Kirsty Kraakman

BSc; MSc(Research) in Chemistry & Biological Sciences

Current Student

"The knowledge that the lecturers at Waikato possess is amazing."

Making new discoveries in science is the ultimate goal for student Kirsty Kraakman.

Kirsty completed a BSc majoring in chemistry and biological sciences last year and has just started a Master of Science(Research) focusing on molecular biology.

She says study at the University of Waikato is full of opportunities. "The knowledge that the lecturers at Waikato possess is amazing. Everyone is so willing to share their experiences and encourage students to get into research and make the most of their degree."

She has especially enjoyed learning about genetic modification of bacteria, and found working on the genetic sequencing of her own genome to be a highlight.

The former Sacred Heart Girls' College, Hamilton student aims to move on to research following undergraduate study and hopes that, in time, she can make a real difference in society.


Pinwei Jin

Pinwei Jin

ME in Mechanical Engineering

Past Student

Master of Engineering (ME) student Pinwei Jin has designed and built a remote control robotic snake, which he hopes will be used in the future for rescue operations.

Master of Engineering (ME) student Pinwei Jin has designed and built a remote control robotic snake, which he hopes will be used in the future for rescue operations.

"Earthquakes and other natural disasters happen frequently in New Zealand and when it comes to the big ones, many lives could be saved if search and rescue operations were conducted more effectively and efficiently," says Pinwei.

Differing from the existing mobile rescue robot systems currently in the market place, he says his Snake Robot provides the flexibility of movement needed in cluttered and irregular environments created by disasters.

"The Snake Robot features a wireless camera on its head and is controlled by a wireless joystick to move forward, backwards, left and right. It has 16 degrees of freedom from the eight joints, nine segments, 16 motors and nine passive wheels. Essentially it can move along the ground like a snake."

Pinwei attended high school in a small town in central China.  After completing a Bachelor of Engineering at Wuhan University of Technology in China, he heard about the University of Waikato from friends and based on the University's reputation, decided to enrol.

View the Snake Robot in action on One News.


Mahonri Owen

Mahonri Owen

BE(Hons); ME in Mechanical Engineering

Current Student

"Once I've built the hand I need to programme it to do simple tasks"

For engineering masters student Mahonri Owen, the drive to help others led him to undertake one of the most complex research projects – to design and create a brain-controlled electro-mechanical prosthetic hand.

Having spent his childhood watching his mum care for and serve others in the community, Mahonri knew that helping others was his future – it was just a question of how.

After a suggestion to develop the prosthetic hand was made by his academic supervisor, Dr Chi Kit Au, Mahonri jumped on the idea and first began by researching what was going on around the world in the development of prosthetic limbs.

The next step for Mahonri was to build the hand, but it's easier said than done. "Once I've built the hand I need to programme it to do simple tasks," says Mahonri.

Such tasks include power grip, key grip, ball grip and pinch. He has already built the skeleton using a 3-D printer to produce the components – taking a total of seven hours to print – and mapped out the design using on-screen CAD (computer aided design). With each part assembled by hand, once completed the goal is to use a neural interface which is non-invasive to control the hand.

Following schooling at the Church College of New Zealand, he began a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in 2007, before taking a break for two years to complete a church service mission in South Africa. Along with his engineering achievements, Mahonri is the recipient of a Sir Apirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship.


Billy Bodger

Billy Bodger

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Current Student

"The flexible BSc course structure and passionate lecturers have allowed for more one-on-one time with staff and more feedback on assignments. I believe I wouldn't be where I am today without that additional help."

Smaller class sizes, enthusiastic lecturers and field trips to exciting North Island locations has made Earth Sciences study at Waikato a top experience for student Billy Bodger. 
 
Billy completed a BSc in Earth Sciences before beginning an MSc in 2013, with a focus on geology. 
 
"The flexible BSc course structure and passionate lecturers have allowed for more one-on-one time with staff and more feedback on assignments. I believe I wouldn't be where I am today without that additional help," says Billy. 


Some memorable field trips have included a six day excursion to the Hawke's Bay for a sedimentary geology paper and a trip to the GNS Science Wairakei Research Centre for a volcanic geochemistry paper. 

"Both of these field trips and all the other practical activities and applied research I have undertaken at Waikato have given me a valuable insight into the tasks that I could expect to encounter in industry. I have no doubt that these experiences will give me a head-start career-wise." 


A School of Science Masters Research Scholarship in late in 2013 helped kick-start Billy's masters study.  Now undertaking research in volcanic geology and gold mineralisation, Billy has been fortunate to work with an international mining corporation and is now trained to use a range of Waikato's excellent laboratory facilities specific to his research.

"Being able to tailor my degree to suit my strengths and interests makes Waikato a top choice for study. Once you come to Waikato, the doors will open for you and the opportunities are endless."


Tom Petchell

Tom Petchell

BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Current Student

“Waikato University offered both a cheap place to live, and a well-recognised and respected degree."

Choosing to undertake tertiary study is a big decision, and not one that engineering student Tom Petchell took lightly.

Following his final year at St John’s College in 2010, Tom wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to take, so found work for a year in the hospitality industry. In 2011 he decided his future lay in engineering, and undertook NCEA Level 3 calculus via correspondence, to enable him to meet the entry requirements for a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours).

“Waikato University offered both a cheap place to live, and a well-recognised and respected degree. On top of this, Waikato offered smaller classes and therefore more access to lecturers.”

Tom says that the model boat design competition in his first year of study, when the School of Engineering comes together for race day was a definite highlight. He also emphasises the numerous other non-academic activities on campus, including speed-interview nights, O week events, clubs days and more.

He urges others to also think carefully about study following school. “Don’t come to university just for something to do.  If you are unsure what path you want to choose, go away, think about it, earn some money, decide, and then come and find out what Waikato can do for you, because the chances are good that they offer an excellent course in it.”


Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie

Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie

BSc in Chemistry

Current Student

“It’s great being able to study subjects that I love in such a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment"

For Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie, the choice to study at Waikato University seemed like an obvious one. With both her parents having worked at Waikato, she says she “pretty much grew up on campus”. 

“This familiarity made the whole transition from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, to university a lot less scary. I also found the flexibility of my degree very appealing as it means that even though I’m doing a Bachelor of Science majoring in chemistry, I can also pursue my interests of music, physics and maths.”   

“It’s great being able to study subjects that I love in such a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment, surrounded by great people from New Zealand and around the world.”


Ollie van Woerden

Ollie van Woerden

BE(Hons) in Materials and Process Engineering

Current Student

“At Waikato the lecturers are excellent and we get to do a lot of practical lab work and challenging group design projects.”

Researching the complexities of turning bloodmeal into bioplastic, alongside top engineering academics, has been the task for materials and process engineering student Ollie van Woerden. 

The project was part of a summer research scholarship, completed in addition to his Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree. 

“At Waikato the lecturers are excellent and we get to do a lot of practical lab work and challenging group design projects.”

As a Hamilton Christian School student, Ollie chose to study at Waikato for the specific programme of Materials and Process Engineering, which is unique to Waikato University, and because he wanted to remain close to home. In the future he hopes to work in the field of industrial processes or materials development. 


Ashleigh Weatherall

Ashleigh Weatherall

BSc(Tech) in Animal Behaviour

Current Student

"Now my goal is to improve the welfare of captive animals and conserve endangered species."

Passionate to make a difference after seeing inadequate animal living conditions in Japanese zoos, Ashleigh Weatherall chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSc(Tech)) at the University of Waikato.

“In high school I received a scholarship to live in Japan for three weeks. This was a real eye opener, as I saw the poor conditions in which animals live at Japanese zoos. Now my goal is to improve the welfare of captive animals and conserve endangered species.”

Following secondary school at Mahurangi College in Warkworth, Ashleigh chose Waikato for its proximity to her home, and because she could complete a major in Animal Behaviour with supporting papers in physiology.

“Highlights from my study so far would be shaping hens’ behaviour in the Ruakura animal lab and observing capuchin monkeys’ behaviour at the Hamilton Zoo during a class field trip.”

In the future she plans to travel overseas to work in animal sanctuaries or zoos, and perform research in the field of animal welfare.

“Study something you love, because you will never get bored. There will always be something new and interesting for you to learn.”


Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Current Student

“I’m really interested in geology and geochemistry, and I’m hoping that an MSc will help me to gain a top job in a geology company.”

The opportunity to spend plenty of time getting hands-on experience in laboratories and out in the field made Waikato University’s BSc the ideal choice for Ryan Lee. 

“Many of the field trips took me to exciting places which I would never previously have had the opportunity to visit, ranging from volcanoes to the inside of hydroelectric dams and power stations.”

During his undergraduate degree, Ryan learnt about a range of Earth Sciences-related topics, including soils, volcanology, geology, engineering geology, environmental monitoring, geochemistry, geographic information systems and hydrology.

The enthusiasm he developed for the subject drew him back for a Master of Science, which he has just begun. Within his masters he’s studying a variety of Earth science related papers as well as some chemistry and GIS papers.

“I’m really interested in geology and geochemistry, and I’m hoping that an MSc will help me to gain a top job in a geology company.” 

Ryan says his BSc has already helped him to gain science-related work. “Over summer I worked in a lab where I used X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy to undertake chemical analyses of rock samples.”

A former Thames High School, Ryan chose to study at Waikato because of the university’s great reputation and its close proximity to his home town. 


Kiriana Isgrove

Kiriana Isgrove

BSc; MSc(Research) in Biological Sciences

Current Student

"I love all the practical experience we are given in science papers."

At high school Kiriana Isgrove considered herself an 'average' student. But since beginning her studies at the University of Waikato last year, she has found her niche in the areas of biological and environmental sciences.

"I find university so different, and I excel in most of my papers. I've achieved far better grades here and have been given opportunities I never thought I could have had."

Kiriana attended Hauraki Plains College and is currently in her second year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences. She chose Waikato because class numbers are small and the campus is close to home, while providing an excellent balance between rural and urban life.

"I have won several scholarships while attending Waikato University which I am extremely grateful for. I was also lucky enough to complete a studentship at AgResearch last summer, which was an incredibly valuable experience."

Other highlights for her have been the labs and field trips.

"I love all the practical experience we are given in science papers. I found it particularly helpful during my summer studentship, when I found I already had a lot of the necessary practical skills that students at other universities did not."

After completing her studies, Kiriana plans to pursue a career in environmental advising for either soil science or hydrology.

"I would recommend Waikato as an excellent university choice because the lecturers and tutors are so friendly and approachable, which makes adjusting to the student lifestyle so much easier."


Rene Engelbrecht

Rene Engelbrecht

BE(Hons) in Materials and Process Engineering

Graduate Process Engineer
Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants, Perth

"I think the key principle my degree taught me is how to apply and relate theories taught in class to real life."

For engineering graduate Rene Engelbrecht, her first year out of university has been a busy and exciting one.

Rene was offered a role as a graduate process engineering at Technip Oceania in New Plymouth while finishing up her study of a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) majoring in materials and process engineering.

While in the role she spent time on site experiencing well site commissioning and also visited Australia for a three month secondment on one of Australasia's largest liquefied natural gas LNG projects.

"I worked on a project looking at subsea chemical injection and how it influences the onshore production station and was lucky enough to be offered a permanent position here in Australia. I am now working in the process, flow assurance and technical safety areas. These three areas make up the foundations of chemical and process engineering and I love every minute of it," says Rene. 

The former Sacred Heart Girls' College (Hamilton) student says the University of Waikato provided the perfect campus to study engineering.

"My study at Waikato gave me a solid foundation in process engineering fundamentals that I can now build on and apply in industry. I think the key principle my degree taught me is how to apply and relate theories taught in class to real life." 

Rene showed consistent academic excellence throughout her degree, and her multiple scholarships-wins have commended this.

Her scholarships have ranged from the Bachelor of Engineering Fees Scholarship in her first year of study, through to prizes in mathematics and energy research, plus a special scholarship celebrating the success of women in engineering and the Freemasons University Scholarship.


Sanjay Patel

Sanjay Patel

BSc in Chemistry

Current Student

“Waikato is an excellent university choice, with smaller class sizes resulting in more practical work…”

Sanjay Patel found his passion in chemistry and finance at the University of Waikato after deciding an Otago health sciences degree wasn’t for him.

The former Kerikeri High School student is currently studying a conjoint Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Business Analysis degree and has also completed statistics papers to further support his Chemistry and Finance majors.

One highlight for Sanjay has been the practical component of his study, and its real-life application.

“Practical work is such a nice change from theory and can be quite fulfilling. In the first year we built and raced boats in an engineering paper, while last summer I was granted a $5000 Summer Research Scholarship, where I used computational chemistry to investigate phosphine-ozone complexes in the atmosphere.”

In the future Sanjay’s aim is to use both his science and business degrees throughout his career.
“I would like to potentially complete a PhD in analytical chemistry. Following this I would like to either work in the finance industry for an investment bank or move into an analytical chemistry career. Becoming a university lecturer in analytical chemistry is also a career path I might pursue.”

“Waikato is an excellent university choice, with smaller class sizes resulting in more practical work, which is valued by industry managers. Waikato has allowed me to diversify myself through networking, taking broad paper selections and getting involved in extracurricular activities. All of these things will help me stand out to potential employers.”


Stewart Robertson

Stewart Robertson

BSc in Biological Sciences

Director and Skipper
Owner/Operator of Golden Future Environmental Ltd

“Five percent of my proceeds...are going to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, a community based conservation group."

Waikato biological sciences graduate Stewart Robertson has used his scientific knowledge and entrepreneurial vision to create an idyllic lifestyle for himself as an owner/operator conservation tour guide in the Abel Tasman National Park.

“A typical day for me involves greeting each of my tour groups with a presentation on ecology and conservation themes. We then board my boat ‘Zeehaen’ and embark on a voyage of discovery around the iconic Abel Tasman National Park. We explore intertidal areas, soft and rocky shores, open sea, island bird sanctuaries, tidal inlets and seal colonies. The day is broken up with lunch at Anchorage beach and a two hour guided walk around Pitt Head mainland ecological island.”

This venture did not come out of the blue. Stewart spent last summer working as a senior water taxi skipper for Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, which included sustainability consulting. He continues to act as a sustainability manager and skipper for Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi alongside his own company.

Stewart says he not only has high hopes for the success of his business, Golden Future Environmental Ltd, but also for the level that he can contribute to the environment and wider community.

“Five percent of my proceeds from the tours are going to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, a community based conservation group. I hope to achieve significant results for them as well as expanding my activities to deliver conservation messages to school and community groups.”

While eco-tourism is his core business, Stewart also provides scientific research services to organisations such as Waikato University. In the past he has worked as a scientific diver for the University and specialist dive contractors Dive NZ on the Rena response, plus he has worked as a scientific diver for Waikato University and the Department of Conservation at Kapiti Island.

Stewart finished his studies at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus just last year. He began his studies with a two-year Diploma of Marine Studies through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and continued on to a third year of study with Waikato University; crediting his diploma towards a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biological Sciences. 


Kathleen Martinez

Kathleen Martinez

BSc in Environmental Sciences

Exchange student from University of California Davis

“I wanted a more personalised, hands-on experience at university, and Waikato provided that." 

University of California Davis student Kathleen Martinez chose an exchange in New Zealand because of the unique ecosystems, beautiful landscapes and rich Maori heritage.

Just half way through a 10 month exchange at the University of Waikato, Kathleen credits her exchange as the highlight of her university experience thus far and says she has already grown in so many ways.

“I wanted a more personalised, hands-on experience at university, and Waikato provided that. Waikato puts an emphasis on small class sizes, and the science papers typically have a lab and field work component. I’m in a lab the same amount of time, if not more than I’m in lectures each week, which really helps me retain the information I’m learning,” says Kathleen.

As an environmental sciences student, Kathleen found that the excellent variety of resource and ecology papers at Waikato made it easy to choose classes that would count towards her degree.

“I’m studying a variety of papers in soil science, atmospheric science, hydrology, ecology, geography and resource planning while at Waikato. I’m also taking one cultural paper in Maori weaving, which has been ideal for expressing my creative side while learning about Maori culture.”

She describes Hamilton’s location within the North Island of New Zealand as ideal for travelling. With its proximity to the ocean, the Coromandel region and more, Kathleen has been able to explore the area easily and has taken lots of small road trips during the semester.

“New Zealand’s people and Hamilton’s location have made my time here so enjoyable. I have made so many close friendships with New Zealand students and their families during my stay that it will be difficult to leave in a couple months.”

After graduation, Kathleen hopes to become an environmental scientist, natural resource scientist, or environmental consultant; and because of her time in New Zealand, she says she is now inspired to live and work abroad in the future.


Kirsten Nel

Kirsten Nel

BE(Hons) in Engineering

Electronic Engineer
The Gallagher Group

"Being recognised as a high achiever and a hard worker by my lecturers has been a highlight for me."

For electronic engineering honours graduate Kirsten Nel, the University of Waikato was her first choice because of glowing reviews from current students.

Kirsten came straight to Waikato University from Fraser High School in Hamilton, which meant she could save money by living at home and didn't have to cope with moving to another city. 

"I also already knew numerous other students from the year above me who were doing the same degree and only had good things to say about it."

In addition to the practicalities of studying in her home town, she was blown away by the hands-on element of the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree.

"At the end of our second and third years Waikato staff helped us to find paid work placements which are carried out over the summer holidays. The work load in terms of theory and practical is also pretty even, which means that we spend just as much time learning as we do putting those concepts into practice."

Two work placements at the Gallagher Group organised by the University of Waikato's Faculty of Science & Engineering were the perfect opportunities for her to prove herself and gain experience in her dream job. Before Kirsten's final placement had concluded she was offered a full-time position in Gallagher's R&D department as an Electronic Engineer.

A recipient of numerous scholarships including the School Leavers Merit Scholarship and Engineering Fees Scholarship, Kirsten is also a member of the Golden Key International Honours society for academic excellence and a recently nominated student ambassador for the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

"Being recognised as a high achiever and a hard worker by my lecturers has been a highlight for me. I always strive to do my absolute best and I am very glad that it's recognised."


Ashley Webby

Ashley Webby

BSc(Tech); MSc(Research) in Biological Sciences

Placement Co-ordinator
University of Waikato

"The work placements allowed me to gain valuable experience and lead me to pursue a master’s degree."

Former Hillcrest High School student Ashley Webby chose Waikato because it was close to home and had an excellent range of papers, taught by enthusiastic lecturers.

Ashley began her study with a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in physiology and ecology.

She describes the highlight of her undergraduate study as her work placements, which included working two summers at Waikato University as a research assistant and work experience at Otorohanga Kiwi House.

"I absolutely loved my placement at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, where I was a keeper and raised eight baby kiwi chicks. At the university I worked on two research projects in freshwater ecology and I learnt so much. I thoroughly enjoyed working as well as studying. The work placements allowed me to gain valuable experience and lead me to pursue a master’s degree."

Following her BSc(Tech), Ashley completed her Master of Science (Research).

"My masters project looked into the toxicity of Rena pollutants to New Zealand fish and shellfish, under the supervision of Associate Professor Nicholas Ling and Professor Chris Battershill."

"It is estimated that 350 tonnes of oil leaked into the environment from the Rena and as most New Zealanders know, the oil spillage had a huge impact on the wildlife and environment in the Bay of Plenty region."

"I assessed the acute sublethal toxicity of varying contaminants from the Rena oil spill including Rena heavy fuel oil and corexit 9500 (the dispersant used to disperse the oil) contaminants to a range of culturally, ecologically and commercially important species. The results were surprising in that the acute effects of exposure to heavy fuel oil with or without Corexit are relatively small.  Now working with Co-Operative education at Waikato University I am part of a team that assists science and engineering students find work placements that are compulsory parts of their degree. Although a degree is not needed in this role a lot of the skills I have learnt previously are transferable. When talking to employers I am able to understand what their research is about and easily convey this to the students. I have learnt a lot of organisational, writing, and communication skills which also allow me to teach others, I am also able to easily relate to the students. A career in science research is not off the cards quite yet – in the future I will pursue this. Science education however is a great way to gain industry exposure, this role also allows me to give back to the programme than I can through, and being a mentor to other students is highly rewarding."


Aaron Huesser

Aaron Huesser

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Australia's Horizon's Programme
Chevron, Perth

“We’ll be using advanced geological and geophysical tools and new technologies to find, evaluate and develop oil and gas resources.”

Growing up in rural Taranaki, Aaron developed an appreciation and passion for the environment. Surrounded by natural energy producers he also gained an enthusiasm for the energy industry, which sparked his interest in the Earth sciences.

Aaron has been selected for Chevron Australia’s Horizons’ Programme, which will take five years and involve three different assignments. 

For Chevron he’ll be undertaking exploration, production management, research and development, and reservoir management and development. He’s one of three graduate geologists that Chevron’s taking on in 2014.

“We’ll be using advanced geological and geophysical tools and new technologies to find, evaluate and develop oil and gas resources.”

Aaron will be the sixth Waikato student in as many years to be selected for a graduate position in Chevron.

Following secondary school at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth, he chose Waikato University due to the world-class facilities available for students and the exceptional teaching and research regime. He credits the numerous field trips as having been a highlight of his studies, with trips to Huriwai Valley to map stratigraphy and into the Taupo Volcanic Zone, including doing the Tongariro Crossing as part of a third-year Earth Sciences paper.


Catherine Kirby

Catherine Kirby

BSc; MSc in Biological Sciences

Research Support Officer
Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato

"Waikato is one of the top universities to study ecology and is surrounded by so many incredible ecosystems."

A six-month exchange to Canada, a handful of scholarships and excellent support from lecturers were just a few of the things that made study at Waikato an experience of a lifetime for graduate Catherine Kirby.

"My role as a research assistant is very diverse and exciting and I don't really have a 'typical day'. Sometimes I arrive at work, jump in a van and head into the field to investigate vegetation patterns in areas such as the Erua, Taranaki and Waipoua forests. Other days I am busy assisting with the Institute's research programmes, helping MSc students with their thesis research, writing reports and articles, and sharing our research findings through presentations."


The Environmental Research Institute combines environmental expertise from different areas in the University to work out how we can improve and sustain the quality of New Zealanders' natural and physical environment.

Catherine began her studies with a Bachelor of Science, specialising in Resource and Environmental Planning, and focusing mainly on Earth Sciences. Following this she undertook a Master of Science, where she decided to alter her focus to Biological Sciences.

"For my masters I concentrated primarily on plant ecology, as I felt that this is an area where I could make more of a difference in terms of environmental conservation and restoration."


Cathy (Zhi) Liu

Cathy (Zhi) Liu

PhD in Earth Sciences

Coastal Modeller
Waikato Regional Council

"As a Coastal Modeller my main duties include setting up numerical models to analyse relevant coastal processes..."

Maintaining healthy harbours and estuaries is just one of the projects that Waikato PhD graduate Cathy Liu has been involved in during her time at the Waikato Regional Council (WRC).

"As a Coastal Modeller my main duties include setting up numerical models to analyse relevant coastal processes and provide data and information on Waikato's coastal environments. This includes developing models which can help the council to access changes, threats and impacts on the coastal and marine areas and make decisions about the management of these areas."

One highlight for Cathy has been her work on the Whitianga Marina project. "A plan was introduced to change the current marina access channel direction by dredging. I developed a set of hydrodynamic and sediment transport models of the Whitianga Harbour which were used to estimate the impacts of the physical process on the channel, and also the impacts of channel dredging on the harbour's health."

Cathy began working with the WRC in 2012 during her PhD research into Hydrodynamics and Sediment Transport in the Tairua Estuary. Her research involved substantial field data collection from waves, tidal currents, river flow and suspended sediment concentrations as the basis for establishing a fully calibrated and verified hydrodynamic and sediment transport numerical model of the Tairua Estuary on the East Coromandel Coast of New Zealand.


Timothy Walmsley

Timothy Walmsley

BE; PhD in Materials and Process Engineering

Research Fellow
University of Waikato

"My PhD research demonstrated that steam use in a typical New Zealand milk powder factory could decrease by 10% if exhaust heat recovery for the milk dryer is installed."

A PhD focused on increasing the energy efficiency of milk powder production has led University of Waikato engineering graduate Tim Walmsley to a full-time job with the very research group within which he worked as a PhD candidate.

"My PhD research demonstrated that steam use in a typical New Zealand milk powder factory could decrease by 10% if exhaust heat recovery for the milk dryer is installed. Lab scale tests indicated issues relating to milk powder build-up and fouling, which is a key reason why dairy companies choose not to install this energy efficient technology, can be avoided through smart heat recuperator design and purposefully not being greedy in recovering heat," says Tim.

His position as a Research Fellow came about when the University of Waikato's Energy Research Group was awarded a three-year grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) late last year.

"Fonterra, Windsor Engineering and the Energy Education Trust co-funded our research bid and a significant part of this successful proposal continues on from my PhD research."

The next step in his research is to prove his design solution at a pilot-scale level before further up-scaling to a full-size New Zealand milk spray dryer. "A milk spray dryer exhaust heat recovery project is a million dollar investment and a pilot scale installation will help de-risk and bring greater certainty around the economics of a full-scale project."

While studying towards his PhD, Tim won a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship, the Todd Foundation Scholarship in Energy Research, and a Claude McCarthy Conference Travel scholarship. These scholarships supported him through his three years of study towards a PhD in engineering, which he completed in June 2014, and provided the opportunity for him to present his work at two international engineering conferences.