School of Chemical Sciences

Meet our students

Our students have different research interests, and follow varied and exciting career paths after graduation. Meet some of our current students and graduates and find out their hopes for the future.

Learn more about why current and past students of the School of Chemical Sciences chose to study with us, and what their hopes for the future are.

Find out why these students chose Auckland for their undergraduate or postgraduate study, learn about their research interests and how they found studying at The University of Auckland.

James Park


Bachelor of Science (Chemistry/Mathematics), Bachelor of Commerce (Economics)
Currently in fourth year of the programme (completion Semester 2, 2010)

Since I was little, I have always been interested in the how and why of the things around me: how things behave the way they do and why they act in that manner. My interest in chemistry became a natural extension of this curiosity, as chemistry at its heart is none other than the study of matter. As an added bonus, even the word chemistry sounds cool!

Studying chemistry at the University of Auckland was an easy decision, given that the School of Chemical Sciences here is arguably the best in the country and competitive with many of the leading universities around the world. The courses on offer are outstanding in their breadth and depth and staff are highly knowledgeable and approachable.

There is no better place to study chemistry in New Zealand than at the University of Auckland.

Arguably the most enjoyable part of my programme was the Summer Scholarship. This gave me the opportunity to conduct a short research project during the summer and was a great experience both in terms of the practical experience and theoretical knowledge gained. It further reinforced my belief that Chemistry is what I really want to continue with. Upon completion of my degree I intend to progress into Honours, PhD and eventually into academia to continue my studies in Chemistry.


Lauren Ferguson (PhD)


Lauren is studying for a PhD in Chemistry and has a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship.

I decided to study for my PhD at The University of Auckland because of the wide range of options for projects with exciting and globally significant research. One of my favourite aspects of a PhD is the opportunity to explore a particular area of Chemistry that excites and challenges me everyday.

My research focuses on metallabenzenes, which are derived from a simple benzene ring and utilise the properties of heavy metals by substituting a metal for a carbon in the benzene ring. These compounds are fascinating as they possess aromatic character and by functionalising the metallabenzene they can serve as building blocks for organometallic polymers. This leads to applications in the formation of sensors, nanowires and data-storage devices.

The University is in the heart of the city and there is easy access to food, entertainment and public transport. The Postgraduate Students’ Association organises social events, such as quiz nights and balls, which are a great way to meet other postgraduates.


Sarah Thompson


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

I've always wanted to pursue higher level academic research, with a view to an academic career. The PhD opportunities in the School of Chemical Sciences matched my research interests perfectly.

I am looking at the ultrafast molecular dynamics of dye and pigment molecules using time-resolved laser spectroscopy. The research serves two main purposes:

  • a purely scientific one in the discovery of molecular dynamics on the femtosecond to picosecond timescales
  • a more applied one in understanding the way pigment molecules in cultural heritage materials react to light and what can be done to help preserve them.

The research is interesting because while it applies directly to an area that I find particularly fascinating, it has possibilities in many other fields.

I love the interdisciplinary nature of my thesis and my wonderfully dynamic supervisors Dr Cather Simpson (Chemistry) and Dr Erin Griffey (Art History), who both challenge and encourage me. The flexibility of my PhD affords me the opportunity to pursue the areas of research that interest me, while contributing to the body of scientific knowledge.

I hope my qualification will lead into an academic career in scientific research, in the field of art conservation.

A University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship has enabled me to continue straight on from honours into my PhD, which I appreciate very much indeed!

I’ve done several academic development courses, particularly the Doctoral Skills courses. They have given me a huge number of tips, tricks and insights into how to be a more effective PhD student.

The University, throughout my time here, has given me both an intellectually stimulating learning environment and a place that's just fun to be with friends. There are so many things to get involved with and participate in, both inside and outside of study time, it's wonderful to work surrounded by so many great and inspiring people.


Marsilea Booth


PhD in Forensic Science under the Department of Chemistry

I chose to study at the University of Auckland to get a fantastic qualification. I viewed a PhD in Forensic Science as an opportunity to work with leading scientists in a world-class environment. My project is funded by ESR, and I also hold a University of Auckland Scholarship.

After completing an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and a Masters in Forensic Science, I have since begun a PhD which encompasses innovative technology from both fields.

I’m currently working on the development of a biosensor for the detection of bodily fluids in forensically important samples. My project involves innovative technology from two fantastic fields: the chemistry behind the development of a novel biosensor using conducting polymers, coupled with emerging RNA detection of body fluids in forensics. Gaining knowledge and experience in both of these areas from experts and merging the two subjects is providing an interesting, exciting and challenging PhD.

I like the fact that with this programme you are able to have both diversity in your topic as well as focus on detail. You are in charge of your own project, but when you get stuck leading scientists are there to aid you.

I hope that with this qualification I can get a job in the competitive market of Forensic Science or the chemistry industry. Gaining knowledge and experience in both of these areas from experts, and merging the two subjects is providing an interesting, exciting and challenging PhD.

Being at the University of Auckland has provided great opportunities. The support from the lecturers, tutors and staff at Chemistry and help from fellow students and of course the social aspects have all added immense value to my experience at the University.


Sarah Moroney


Masters in food science

I chose to study at the University of Auckland because of its reputation as a high quality institution recognized worldwide. I did my undergraduate degree in chemistry which was a good background for food science because it has many interesting applications of chemistry, along with biology and physics. When doing the Postgraduate Diploma in Food Science last year I found it particularly interesting learning about food constituents and nutrition. I was not sure what to do this year so I thought a Masters would increase my chances of finding an interesting job, one which is hopefully not too repetitive.

My thesis topic is p-coumarate in the cell walls of commelinid monocotyledons, a certain group of plants. Studying plant cell walls both increases basic scientific knowledge and has applications in many areas such as food texture and nutrition, ruminant digestion and biofuels. By doing a Masters I am learning technical science skills and how to communicate scientifically. I am also learning transferable skills such as time management, working with other people and self motivation. I hope to get a job in the food industry next year possibly in product development.

I received the Faculty of Science masters scholarship which went towards my fees.

The things I most like about the programme are that you discover unexpected things and have to think about what they mean, which is a challenge! It is also satisfying and exciting when experiments work out and you get to see what new things have been discovered.

Throughout my time at university, I have always found the lecturers stimulating, approachable and helpful. My supervisors for my Masters project are very supportive. It is great working with people who have so much experience and knowledge of the field.

In general my time at university has helped me grow in maturity and independence. I have fun with my friends and find the food science department is a supportive place to work.