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Your Workspace in the World

To celebrate the 2015 Graduate Research Festival, the Graduate Research School launched an Instagram account. We wanted to know where your ‘Workspace in the World’ was – where does your research brilliance ‘happen’? Claire recounts her experience as a Masters candidate…

“I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in bed.  It was the old days and I had an early Apple Mac that I’d prop on my knees like a laptop (I was an innovator).  I liked writing in bed because when I got tired I could have a wee nap and when I woke up I could start writing again immediately.  I believe one of the reasons I don’t get enough done on my PhD thesis is because my boss won’t let me set up a bed in my office.”

We can imagine it looking a little something like this…Panda1

 

So we asked… are you a J. K. Rowlingesque café goer?  Do you compete for Library space with the undergraduates?  Have you got the perfect balance of proximity between access to coffee and a source of warmth? And your pictures said it all! The five lucky winners are announced at the conclusion of your following worldly workspaces… enjoy 🙂

 

Anne Shave – PhD, Department of Theology
Anne Shave - PhD, Theology

Ali Rogers – Masters, Department of Science CommunicationAli Rogers - Masters, Science Communication

Tyler Northern – Masters, Department of Marine ScienceTyler Northern - Masters, Marine Science

Tracy Rogers – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreTracy Rogers - PhD, HEDC

Rebecca Babcock – Masters, Bioethics and Health LawRebecca Babcock - Masters, Bioethics and Health Law

Rachel Tan – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreRachel Tan - PhD, HEDC

Pramit Patel – Masters, Department of MicrobiologyPramit Patel - Masters, Microbiology

Mike Maze  PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineMike Maze - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Marieke Jasperse – PhD, Department of Psychological MedicineMarieke Jasperse - PhD, Psychological Medicine

Lindsay Robertson – PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineLindsay Robertson - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Liesel Mitchell – PhD, National Centre for Peace and Conflict StudiesLiesel Mitchell - PhD, Peace and Conflict

Li Kee Chee  Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeLi Kee Chee - Masters, Dietetics

Georgia Bell  Masters, Department of Marine ScienceGeorgia Bell - Masters, Marine Science

Francesca Allen – Masters, Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyFrancesca Allen - Masters, Archaeology

Esther Dale – PhD, Department of BotanyEsther Dale - PhD, Botany

Erika Szymanski – PhD, Department of Science CommunicationErika Szymanski - PhD, Science Communication

Chelsea Slobbe – Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeChelsea Slobbe - Masters, Dietetics

Ben Riordan – PhD, Department of PsychologyBen Riordan - PhD, Psychology

Rebecca Ahmadi – Masters, Public HealthRebecca Ahmadi

The winners have been drawn from the very official hat! Congratulations to…

Georgia Bell, Tyler Northern, Rebecca AhmadiMike Maze, and Esther Dale

Your $50 prezzy cards will be available for you to collect from the GRS Reception (Ground floor of Clocktower Building, north end) from Monday afternoon onward (7 September). Or contact phd@otago.ac.nz for any alternative arrangements.

Thanks again to all of you who shared your photos: your second homes, that spot in the library, your kitchen, the lab; whether love it or hate it, hang on to your little workspace in the world!

Postgrads hitting the airwaves

Today on the Blog With No Name we are talking with Lawrence Hamilton, host of the Postgraduate Radio Show on Otago University’s very own 91 FM, Radio One. The show is a great place to catch up with all the goings-on within the postgraduate community, hear some interesting interviews and catch the latest in Kiwi and international music. We asked Lawrence some easy questions…

Lawrence and Ali

Why is it called the Postgraduate Radio Show?

Because it is better than being called the Radio Show With No Name (ouch).

What time is it on?

10am-Noon Wednesdays – perfect for that second (or third) cup of coffee and early enough in the day so you don’t feel like you’re procrastinating.  But never fear if that third cup of coffee isn’t enough, or you were up studying all night and haven’t made it out from under the covers yet, the show is available on www.r1.co.nz. Just look up the programme page and you can be free to listen to past shows or any podcasts that might be posted. The programme page also contains links to postgraduate announcements and upcoming events, along with a whole jumble of interesting news stories and curiosities.

What is the show about?

The overall theme of the show is ‘celebrating the wonderful Otago postgraduate culture’. And it’s true, Otago does have a wonderful and vibrant postgraduate community. I am constantly amazed at the unique and creative research projects going on all round Dunedin.  It is also just a fun way to spend a mid-week morning. Each week I am introduced to something new and wonderfully random, like green tea super cheese.

But what if I am lactose intolerant?

Actually, the super cheese is designed for people with lactose intolerance, but anyway… Besides talking about local research, the show also has guests from around the world talking about interesting and ground-breaking subjects. Human rights lawyers, international film-makers, and even a scientist who believes he can stop ageing have all come on the Postgraduate Radio Show to share their views with the students here in Dunedin. And if that is not enough, there are giveaways, updates about activities at the Graduate Research School, and of course good music.

But what if I only listen to the radio in car?

Well then drive more! No, Radio one is available as a streaming service from most laptops, phones and tablets. Just go to www.r1.co.nz and click on the stream. The world is changing and so is radio! It is not just for sitting in a car!

Can I participate?

Absolutely! Anyone who feels they have something to say about their research is free to come on and have a chat. It is a great way to get involved in the postgraduate community. Even if you are not technically a postgraduate but feel you have something to say to the community, then get in touch and get on the radio!

Where can I learn more?

Well, if you feel like you have the perfect face for radio then just stop into the Radio 1 office or you can email me directly at lawrence.c.hamilton@gmail.com. I love talking to postgraduates and would love to hear you over the airwaves!

And now for our final question, would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Do I get a weapon?

No, just your brute strength.

Then one hundred duck-sized horses – at least you could kick them and jump on them.

 

The Anatomy of a Workshop*

* Warning: this post contains genuine anxiety, real-time procrastination, and 24 carat chaos.  It is not for the fainthearted.

I’m composed of 82% Fear-of-Missing-Out which leads me to agree to a range of things I should probably say no to.  It means I have had the opportunity to do some pretty awesome stuff at work but it also comes at a cost.  The price I pay generally involves a few sleepless nights, the occasional dream that the Vice-Chancellor calls me to a meeting and I turn up naked apart from a stuffed possum on my head and a nervous smile, and a tendency to word coleslaw salad.  

Naturally enough when I got asked to present a workshop on how to do presentations, I said yes.

Several hours-in of the 25+ hours I spent on preparing material for the workshop had me questioning my career choices and cycling through Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. 

I really love teaching and presenting** and every-so often I manage to convince some kind person that I’m ok at it.  Nevertheless, I still  feel under-prepared and worry about my inadequacy in all sorts of ways.  Feeling like a fraud (be it about our knowledge, our process, or our expertise) is not something we talk about readily but it is something I think we should acknowledge more.

The awesome Hugh Kearns is due to present a workshop on the imposter syndrome  in Dunedin in a couple of weeks (register here!) so it seems timely to write about my reality before rocking up and delivering a talk, lecture or workshop.  

Blog 1Blog 2Blog 3Blog 4

** Showing-Off, as my mother would say.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

No Worries: a Sweet As Guide to Sussing Out New Zild

sweet asHas your supervisor asked you over to their house and asked you to bring a plate?  Did a technician question you about the flux capacitor being pakaru? Have you noticed that the chapter in your thesis is awesome when it really doesn’t seem like it is to you?  Has your flatmate suggested you lux the lounge?

When Lisa isn’t sussing out your dough so that you get paid sweet as, she does the hard yards by delving into the bewildering world of New Zealand speech. 

Chur Lisa! 

As if the English language wasn’t hard enough, the Kiwi’s had to go one step further.

What do the words choice, mean, mint and sweet have in common? In the kiwi language they all mean the same thing! (Translation: good, great, cool, awesome).

Words for blog 2

You might find navigating the kiwi slang hard yakka (hard work), or it might be a piece of cake (really easy), either way don’t bust a gut (make a big effort). Gizza (give us/me a…) moment, have a smoko (break, usually morning/afternoon tea) and I’ll spin a yarn (tell a story) for you about the mysteries of the Kiwi language.

Have you been invited to a bash (party) in the wop-wops (middle of nowhere, countryside), with togs (bathing suit, swimming clothes) and jandals (type of sandal, called thongs in Australia) standard attire? You’re one lucky son of a gun if you have! Maybe you’ll grab a cold one (cold beverage, usually a bottle or can of beer) from the dairy (local convenience store) and put a snarler on the barbie (cook a sausage on the barbeque) tonight. Let’s just hope it’s not hosing down (raining) by tea time (dinner, meal eaten in the evening).

 

Untitsfnjksdfjsd

If this all sounds like gobbledegook (nonsense) to you then no worries, grab a cuppa (cup of tea/coffee) and I’ll guide you through the mysteries of the kiwi language.

There are words with double meanings: stubby is a beer, or short shorts worn by a male.

We use adjectives such as dear (expensive), wee (small), heaps (lots). Used in a sentence it looks something like: “That was a dear steak for such a wee amount, I expected heaps more for that price.”

So don’t be a wet blanket (fun spoiler), pike out (pull out of doing something), or spit the dummy (throw a tantrum) and give the Kiwi language a go. She’ll be right (it will be okay). And if all else fails, just smile and nod .

Lisa Beckingsale, Scholarships Office, Graduate Research School

The Art of the Form: a Re-Enrolment of Two Halves

One of the reasons I became the Manager of the Graduate Research School is because I am atrocious at filling in forms.  Every time I go near a form (be it online or paper) I manage to get myself caught in a wormhole of confusion, fear and panic.

Either I do not understand the questions, I object to the style in which they are written or they violate some moral principle that I hitherto had not realised I was committed to.

The Doctoral Office are a crack-team-of-awesome when it comes to helping fill in forms and so when I am faced with some bewildering bureaucracy, Tina kindly takes me by the hand and gently asks, “don’t you remember, Claire, we did it like this last year?”

No!  I don’t remember!!  I never remember!!!

I would like to blame the form-designers of the world, but given the repeated nature of this problem and the fact that there must be more than one person designing all these forms that I fail at filling in, reason would suggest that I’m the common denominator here.  I seem to have a rare and peculiar debilitating condition called Formus Blindicus cum Incompetencia.

This week I tackled my re-enrolment and all was going well until I went to Study Link to apply for a student loan.  I checked out whether or not part-timers could still get their fees paid (and they can) and I started to churn through the questions feeling almost competent.

Sure, I had to reread a few of the questions, sure I may or may not have cursed at the screen a few times, but I was feeling truly hopeful as I pressed the final Eligibility radio button.

YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A STUDENT LOAN

YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CHILD DISABILITY ALLOWANCE

I know I’m perky for my age, but a child disability allowance?  Really?

SIGH.

After going back through every screen with a fine-tooth comb, I unclicked the offending buttons.  I undid all my answers to the questions I’d misinterpreted.  I no longer accidently identified as a child/felon/bankrupt/in loan arrears.

Then booya!  Just like that I was all sorted.

Easy as.

Personal and prolonged form-incompetence aside, all this is by way of reminding you that if you weren’t enrolled for second semester, it’s time to do it now.  Go on, if I can manage it, anyone can!

Sarah will help you….

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

Re-enrol

It’s that time of year, people! If you only have a Semester One (part-year) enrolment, and you’re still busy beavering away on your thesis, then you’ll need to re-enrol for the remainder of the 2015 academic year.

How do I re-enrol?

Please email us at phd@otago.ac.nz, with your name and ID number, requesting enrolment for semester two, and we’ll update this in the system for you. Once complete, a message confirming the change to your enrolment and an invoice for semester two fees will appear in your eVision portal.

If you’re wanting to make a change from full-time to part-time or vice versa, you’ll need to fill out form for that instead, which can be found here: http://www.otago.ac.nz/OTAGO089636

REMEMBER… you need to be enrolled to submit your thesis for examination, so if you didn’t quite make it for a semester one submission but you still want to submit this year (and don’t have a current full-year enrolment), then flick us an email!

Re-enrol3

Speaking of beavering away, we’ve also been busy little bees here in the Doctoral Office processing all of your glorious hard bounds theses! Please bear with us while we get everything sorted for those graduating in August, we’ll get to any of your queries as soon as we can 🙂

Sarah McGregor, Doctoral Office, Graduate Research School

The Chaplaincy and You

CHaplainThere are a number of services and people around campus who are there to help make your postgrad experience easier. In what I hope will become a series for the blog, I thought it would be a good idea to hunt out some of these folks and learn a bit more about what they do and how it can help you with your postgrad study. First up, Mike Wright, one of the University Chaplains, and EdD candidate, so in short a busy lad.

Mel: Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by for a bit of a chat about your role as a University Chaplain. Do you want to tell us a bit about your role?

Mike:  Hey Mel. Yes for sure! As Chaplains we seek to provide pastoral care and spiritual support to all students studying at the University of Otago, and to do so in a respectful, confidential, inclusive, and non-judgemental way. What does pastoral care and spiritual support include, I hear you say …

For me, pastoral care includes anything and everything that impacts on your life as a student e.g. study pressures, finances, homesickness, relationships, grief and loss, etc.

Spiritual support involves supporting the spiritual dimension of students’ lives. That includes those things that give your life meaning & purpose, or the search for those things. It’s about the source of your creativity; and your relationships and the sense of connectedness you have with yourself, with others, with the planet, and with God/Higher Power/Other…. Spirituality also includes your beliefs & values, it drives your ethical behaviours, and is your source of resilience in times of challenge.

As chaplains, we’re involved in many other things on campus, but pastoral care & spiritual support are the main aspects of what we do.

Mel: Why do you think it is important to have on campus Chaplains?

Mike: We come to University as whole people – and that includes the spiritual. While there are many spiritual people on campus – both religious and not religious, the University chaplains have an official role with respect to spirituality; to support and encourage philosophies and practices of life that lead to wholeness and well-being (hauora). We’re able to engage with and accompany students (and staff) either in one-off conversations, or in more regular on-going support for example University’s new Healthy Campus website.

Greg Hughson and I have a full-time presence on campus (here in Dunedin) and are also available by email, phone, skype, etc., to distance students and students at Otago’s satellite campuses in Invercargill, Christchurch and Wellington.

Mel: Do you think it is important for postgrad students to acknowledge their spiritual side and how can it be of benefit to their studies?

Mike:  Yes I do. Socrates (among others) once said “Know thyself”, and “The unexamined life is not worth living” – that includes the spiritual aspects of our lives.

Being a postgrad student is not just about research outputs, thesis writing, and publications. It’s also about becoming a person more fully aware, more fully alive in the midst of the challenging process of postgrad study. Spiritual exploration (either religious or secular) is an essential part of that. As chaplains we’re here to help you with that exploration.

Mel: You are currently undertaking your EdD – how do you balance your study and role as Chaplain?

Mike:  With some difficulty! Maintaining continuity of thought and focus is very challenging. At times it’s actually impossible due to the unpredictable demands of my full-time chaplaincy role. I diary ahead blocks of time for writing but these are often consumed by work issues before I can get to them. I do keep trying though, and occasionally succeed!

Remembering that there’s more to life than both work and study is important. Down time to spend with family & friends, to read an occasional novel, and to watch movies is essential. So is regular exercise. I get to the gym as often as I can. It helps to clear my head as much as anything else.

Most important, however, I have an endlessly supportive team of supervisors, and a wonderful support crew made up of family, friends, and colleagues. They keep me going with words of encouragement and remind me of how much progress I’ve already made. They’re all vitally important!

Being a doctoral student for 5 years now has enabled me to connect experientially with other postgrad students in ways I couldn’t have before. Only by going through it yourself can you really understand what it’s like for others.

Mel: Finally, Would you like to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Mike: I’d go for one hundred duck-sized horses. Horses are pack animals. I’d turn the leader then have an army at my disposal.

Ted, The Governor General and Jon

TGIFI have been in the job a few years now, some say too many. One of the best things about the job is working with awesome folk. What started as odd emails, then a strange phone call or two, a lunch followed by a flappy presentation has become a unique work friendship developed over mutual frustrations over incomplete applications and the magical phrase TGIF!. Let me introduction Jon Winnall, Scholarships Manager at Universities New Zealand.

Mel: Hi Jon, Welcome to the GRS blog, we are super happy to be talking to you. I guess to get the ball rolling do you want to tell us a bit about what Universities NZ is and why Otago Postgrad students should know about it?

Jon: Righto! Delighted to be here with you.  What is Universities NZ? Universities NZ is the easy to use name of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee – an organisation which works on behalf of all eight universities in New Zealand. We have number of focus areas for the universities – for example advocacy with the public sector, policy, research, international links and students, academic programmes and… Scholarships.  Otago postgrads may see some of the effects and outcomes of what we do as an organisation – a new Masters programme here, a new research policy or initiative there, etc. But it is the scholarships work that we do that is probably closer to home.

Mel: Can you tell us a bit about the role you play in the awarding of scholarships and what the best bit about the job is?

Jon: Now that is the that most difficult of questions – What do I do?  The scholarships team at Universities NZ manages nationally contestable scholarships – those scholarships that are open to applications from postgrads at any of the NZ universities. We manage the application process, convene selection committees, manage the committee process and (try to) keep applicants fully informed about the status of their application. This is becoming easier using our spiffing new on-line application system And the best bit about the job is making those ‘good news’ phone calls. All our scholarships are good, are notable and signify a real achievement for the winners, some scholarships are quite literally life changing. It is always a privilege to make those congratulations phone calls.

(The second best bit about the job is visiting Otago). (of course  – Mel)

(The third best bit is having lunch at Government House twice a year )

Mel: You would have looked at a number of applications over your time at UNZ (that is scholarship talk for Universities New Zealand). What is the most common mistake you see applicant’s making?

Jon:

Oh – where do I start …………….

Most common is not reading and understanding the Regulations for a scholarship and checking their eligibility. This is closely followed by leaving it to the last minute to submit an application. And this is closely followed by not understanding that they, the applicant, have to chase and hassle their referees to make sure that the references are in on time.

OK – I’ll stop there…..

Mel: We have a stellar record with the Rhodes scholarship and I was wondering is there anything you notice that sets Otago applicants apart from applicants?

Jon: Preparation. A Rhodes application is not something that should be gone into lightly. Otago applicants have been advised and guided throughout the process and for The three outstanding candidates that are nominated by Otago each year all are outstanding on paper. Those who reach the interview stage always prove their worth.

Mel: Finally, Would you like to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Jon: I’m going to let Teddy answer that…………….

ted

Unfortunately when Ted was questioned about horse -sized duck or duck sized horses he  refused to comment.

If you think what you have takes to be the next Otago Rhodes scholar then contact the scholarship office about our upcoming information evening.  Equally visit the UNZ website for more details about the excellent scholarships opportunities that are available.

The Wonderful World of Workshops

Workshops

In case you didn’t know it yet, the Graduate Research School offers a whole host of glorious workshops and events for graduate research candidates to utilise and enjoy throughout their time here. These are varied in topic and presented by a number of experienced academics and Otago staff, who aim to engage with and inspire with their wealth of knowledge and genuine interest in helping you along the way. Among the heap of sessions run by GRS, the Student Learning Centre and HEDC; here are just a few snippets!

Presented by our pretty great GRS Dean, Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, Doctoral candidates are treated to stage-based workshops:  for those in the early stages of their study (Embarking on your Doctoral Journey), for those mid-way through their study (Keep Calm and Carry on), and for those hitting crunch time in the final stages of writing up (Hitting the Home Stretch).

Our very own GRS Manager, Claire Gallop, runs the ‘Insider’s Guide to Doctoral Domination’, which is a series of 6 x 1 hour workshops (next round starting in May!) aimed at helping you successfully negotiate your way through doctoral study. Claire also gleefully presents the ‘Mastering Your Thesis’ workshop, designed to offer Masters candidates some handy tips and advice on conquering their theses.

I asked a couple of our current students their thoughts on any workshops they’ve attended so far and received awesome responses!  One PhD candidate gave us an insightful rundown of her experiences:

“Both workshops [The Insider’s Guide to Doctoral Domination and Keep Calm and Carry On] were well run, jam-packed with useful bits of information and a friendly environment to raise questions and talk to others experiencing similar research challenges/successes!

… The Insider’s Guide ran over the course of a couple of weeks, and this was a great amount of time for getting to know the other people in the workshop, which helped me feel like I was not ‘alone’ in this research adventure. It also gave me space to ask some of those broader questions (“where is the best coffee shop on campus?”) that you feel like your supervisor wouldn’t have time to answer, or you might feel stupid asking!

The Keep Calm workshop also creates a comfortable space for asking questions, breaking into smaller groups and offering really helpful advice. One of the nice things about attending the Keep Calm workshop at the thesis halfway mark, was actually recognising and reconnecting with some of the students who had attended Insider’s Guide a year or so earlier! I also thought both workshops were really helpful for helping you make the transition from Masters to PhD research. Both Claire and Rachel were great at putting things in perspective and providing practical solutions to counter all fears! The very blunt statement that this is “just a PhD”, was probably the most constructive, practical, keep-your-feet-on-the-ground-and-stop-the-panic advice I took away from these workshops.

My personal recommendation would be to attend both of these workshops. They help make connections with other PhD students, across a variety of disciplines and allow you to see, not only is there life beyond the four walls of your office, but your experience is not unique, and sharing this with others is quite therapeutic!”.

Ashraf Alam, a recently inducted PhD candidate echoed this response:  “I believe all those workshops were useful. As a Masters student, I was mostly benefited from the ‘Mastering Your Thesis’ workshop. I’d be happy if I could really tell Claire Gallop, how grateful to her I am! I’d suggest all Masters thesis students to attend this particular workshop within the first month of beginning their research”. He indicated that the most important pieces of advice he received was to publish, and to get in touch with the subject librarian, stating that this was “… an invaluable asset that Otago has”.

Networking

When it comes to networking, Ashraf said that he appreciated receiving “… advice about managing the relationship among different stakeholders (supervisors, librarians, departmental faculties, peers, etc). It is not easy in a multicultural environment where general expectations are very diverse (much more than what you can imagine) among individuals”.

Current PhD candidate, Keely Blanch, shared her thoughts on the ‘Networking’ workshop run by Rachel: “Networking is one of those things you know you ‘should’ do, a necessity even if it seems at times to be a painful stilted way to meet people at conferences. Being half way through my PhD I gamely signed up and dragged myself off to Rachel’s seminar. Rachel offers some good reasons on why networking is good for your career – finding mentors, creating a network of people who can help you find out about job opportunities, creating new friendships and so on. Many opportunities to network can evolve naturally from chance meetings and so interactions are less ‘forced’. Other meetings, such as those at conferences where you know no one, are more difficult. Rachel took us through a series of exercises designed to let us practice meeting and chatting with complete strangers. Sure the conversations can seem a bit awkward when you first start, but once that ‘commonality’ is identified things seem to truck along more smoothly. You may ask what a short seminar on your own campus can offer, but in one afternoon I met postgrads from other departments (which means familiar faces to chat to at other functions), and I connected with someone who also blogs about their postgrad journey. I may have headed there with trepidation, but the afternoon was enjoyable and worthwhile”.

Feeling motivated to attend?! (Heck, even I am!) Head to the website and sign up!

http://www.otago.ac.nz/research/graduate/otago041922.html

Thanks for tuning in 🙂

Brenda Shore Award – The Person Behind the Name

A number of scholarships are named after folk  who have very generously donated money to help students fulfill their academic dreams.  I always find it interesting to learn more about people who do this and in what I hope will be a regular feature here on the blog, this post looks at the person behind the named scholarship.  To learn more about the Brenda Shore Award  I caught up with Lorraine Issacs who helps with the selection process for the  Award and we also hear from students who have benefited from her generous bequeath.

brenda shoreMel:  Hi Lorraine, thank you for taking the time to provide us with some background to the Brenda Shore Award.  I guess the first question I have is, who was Brenda Shore?

Lorraine: Brenda Faulkner Shore, nee Slade, (1922-1993) earned a BSC from Otago University in 1944-45, majoring in Botany.  She was awarded an MSc and PhD, also in Botany, at Cambridge University in the early 1950’s and taught Botany at Otago until 1983, reaching the position of Associate Professor.  She was enthusiastic and enterprising, and over the course of 35 years became a prominent figure in the Botany Department  as a researcher and teacher.  In later life she added the ability to paint botanically accurate plants to her many accomplishments, and always championed higher education for women.

Mel:  The Brenda Shore Award is administered by the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women.  Can you tell me a bit about the NZFGW and the connection to Brenda Shore?

Lorraine: NZFGW is an organisation of women graduates which aims to improve the status of women and girls, promote lifelong education and enable graduate women to use their expertise effectively.  It awards educational scholarships to deserving women:  Brenda Shore was the second holder of an NZFGW Fellowship which helped her attend Cambridge University.  She showed her gratitude to NZFGW by setting up the Brenda Shore Post-Graduate Research Trust to assist Masters’ and Doctoral research by Otago University women, the recipients to be chosen annually by a panel of NZFGW members.

Mel:  When you are assessing scholarship applications, who in your mind is the ideal applicant that you like to support through the Brenda Shore Award?

Lorraine:  Because of Brenda Shore’s own preferences and interest, we like to choose postgraduate applicants studying one of the natural sciences (eg. Botany, Zoology, Marine Science, Geography, Environment of Science, Ecology) and carrying out research in the Otago, Southland or Antarctic areas.  They also, of course, need to be passionate about their work, have the potential to add value to their society and be doing research to a very high standard.

Mel:  I know you have reviewed a number of applications over the years, what is one tip you would give someone who is applying for a scholarship?

Lorraine:  We ask applicants to tell us in 100 words about their life experience:  women who use those 100 words wisely to tell us about their experiences, skill and potential to be successful in their future endeavours will have more chance of winning a Brenda Shore Award.

Mel:  What is your favourite thing about being involved in the process of selecting a candidate for the Brenda Shore Award?

Lorraine:  It is wonderful to give away money to serving women scholars and know that the faith we have in them will spur them on in their higher education.  Since 2004 we have given 34 awards worth a total of $184, 000 – who wouldn’t be pleased about that!

Mel:  Last year the Brenda Shore Award was awarded to Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge and Natalie Howes.  I caught up with Kirsten and Natalie and asked them to explain what winning the Brenda Shore Award meant to them

Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge, PhD candidate,  Biochemistry: One of the aims of my Master’s project was to determine the phenotype of effector regulatory T cells in colorectal cancer. To do this I had to design a new flow cytometry panel using a large range of new antibodies. The Brenda Shore award allowed me to purchase a variety of antibodies I would not have been able to purchase otherwise, and I would not have been able to get such a thorough phenotype of my cells of interest.  This greatly benefited my project as I was able to get a more detailed insight into the cells of interest that I was looking at and to complete my research to the highest possible standard.

Natalie Howes, PhD, Food Science:  My PhD has a large component of field work that requires me to travel extensively. At the time of receiving the Brenda Shore Award I was travelling 400km per week to collect samples from a farm in Southland for a period of four months. The Brenda Shore Award assisted with the significant cost of this travel which would have otherwise been financially burdening. The scholarship also enabled me to purchase sampling equipment on a need-to-use basis. This was especially beneficial for my farm trials due to their relatively unpredictable nature.

The Brenda Shore Award closed on 28th of February.  For more details about this scholarship including application information please visit the Brenda Shore Award page on the University of Otago Scholarships website.

Happy New Year

We at the GRS Blog are quietly easing into 2015 and will be back on deck next week with an awesome post.

In the meantime if you want something to read,  check out the BBC 100 Things we didn’t know last year.  My personal favorite – Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are know as Curly Fu and Peanut in China.

Enjoy