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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.

Bachelor of Science

Rupal Madaan, BSc in Chemistry, School of Chemical Sciences
Rupal Madaan

Rupal Madaan

Rupal Madaan is studying toward a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry.

“My interest for chemistry began in high school because I had a fascination with drug designing and biochemistry, and I wanted to know more.  

“I chose the University of Auckland because I knew that the Faculty of Science is New Zealand’s biggest science faculty and that the education is of a high standard.

"It is also close to home, not only to make expenses more manageable but it helped to create a smooth transition between high school and University.

“My favourite part of study is the labs because the work we do there relates back to the real world, they can also be a great education tool in order to understand the course better.

"In Medicinal Chemistry we had to make pharmaceutical drugs and compare them to the commercial ones which was really interesting.”


Zoe Xie, BSc, School of Chemical Sciences
Zoe Xie

Zoe Xie

Zoe Xie is studying for a Bachelor of Science majoring in Food Science and Nutrition, following the Food Science pathway.

“I am really curious about food composition and structure. I’ve always wondered why most of the healthy food is not that delicious while the junk food tastes so good. I hope to one day produce one kind of food that is healthy and has perfect taste as well.

“The University of Auckland is one of the world’s highly ranked universities, and the Faculty of Science has plenty of knowledgeable professional staff, the study environment is really good, and my fellow food science students are all passionate about what we do.

“The study of Food Science is amazing and interesting, I’ve learned so much in my studies. I hope to find employment where I can produce food.”


Casey Park, BSc in Food Science and Nutrition, School of Chemical Sciences
Casey Park

Casey Park

Casey Park is studying toward a Bachelor of Science majoring in Medical Chemistry.

“I remember the exact moment when I decided to pursue Medicinal Chemistry. In year 12, I came to the University open day (Courses and Careers Day) and attended a lecture about Medicinal Chemistry by Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble. She explained some of the amazing accomplishments she has made in the area, and how they have affected so many people’s lives.

"I was deeply inspired by this and was determined to take Medicinal Chemistry. Also, I enjoyed both chemistry and biology at school, and Medicinal Chemistry is a combination of both. So, it was perfect for me!

“Medicinal Chemistry is about designing, synthesising and discovering drugs by using fundamental knowledge from chemistry as well as other fields in science.

"I have gained an unbelievable amount of knowledge about not only chemistry, but also areas such as physiology and immunology, which I have realised I have a very deep interest in.

“This major helps you to figure out what you are genuinely passionate about by letting you explore a variety of different papers. It is very challenging, but what you gain from it makes everything worth it.

“I would like to go into research. I have been taking an immunology paper, which I am absolutely in love with. I’d like to be involved in designing and synthesising drugs that could cure various immunological diseases! I would love to take part in making innovations in the field of medicine that will enhance quality of life.”


Master of Science

Gemma Nancollis, MSc in Forensic Science, School of Chemical Sciences
Gemma Nancollis

Gemma Nancollis

Gemma Nancollis studied toward a Master of Science specialising in Forensic Science and graduated in 2016. Previously, Gemma studied for a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science and completed this qualification in 2015.

“I’ve always wanted to work in science, and have been drawn to forensics in particular.

“The University of Auckland is the only university that offers postgraduate study options in Forensic Science and the forensics programme has a fantastic reputation.

“The great thing about the forensic programme is the fact that it is run in conjunction with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), who is the sole provider of forensic services to the New Zealand police.

"It means that we are learning from the personal experience of a wide range of forensic practitioners and experts in their fields, and gives us the opportunity to get a great insight into the actual workings of the forensic field.

“Going into this qualification my hopes were that it would lead to employment in forensic casework. I am currently working at ESR in their forensic research team and it is fantastic putting into action all the skills and knowledge I have spent the last two years refining.” 


Postgraduate Diploma in Science

Greta Codyre, PGDipSci in Wine Science, School of Chemical Sciences
Greta Codyre

Greta Codyre

Greta Codyre graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Wine Science in 2016.

“I loved learning about how the different regions produce such unique wines and the hands on approach that the industry has.

“The academic side is very important, but the practical work is what we will potentially be doing for our career and is crucial to know. I also loved the thought of being able to travel and work so easily – how can you beat combining wine and travel?

“The vineyard environment on Waiheke Island is amazing! Be prepared to fall in love with your workplace. This course allowed me to meet so many people who share a love for wine - drinking and making it.

"I cannot recommend living in the homestead at Goldie Vineyard more highly.

“There are so many different avenues you can take from this course – business, sales, winemaking, viticulture - I have loved experiencing them all.

I can’t wait to do many vintages over the next few years, in New Zealand and overseas, and find out which part of the industry I love the most and what wine I want to make.” 


Doctor of Philosophy

Shama Dissanayake, PhD in Chemistry, School of Chemical Sciences
Shama Dissanayake

Shama Dissanayake

Shama Dissanayake is studying toward a PhD specialising in Chemistry after completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) specialising in Medicinal Chemistry.

“I was interested in pursuing a PhD at the University of Auckland because we are a well-known, highly-ranked institution, and because of the wide variety of research projects offered from different research groups within the University. This enabled me to choose a project which intrigued me.

“My thesis is about the use of peptide-drug conjugate systems as potential therapeutics for Polycystic Kidney disease. When I graduate, I hope to contribute to the research sector to develop modern therapeutics and to continue working in research and development.

“One thing about doing a PhD is you learn very quickly about how many challenges you face with the research, and if it isn’t for the support of your fellow researchers and the supervisors it is difficult to stay focused.

“What I like most about postgraduate study is the independence of having intellectual freedom to develop ideas relevant to my research project."


Anand Mohan, PhD in Food Science, School of Chemical Sciences
Anand Mohan

Anand Mohan

Anand Mohan is studying for a PhD in Food Science.

“As the University of Auckland is one of the world’s highly ranked universities, I found a research topic of interest and decided to study here.

“My thesis topic is about the study of probiotic potential and fermentation metabolomics of honey for Lactobacillus reuteri DPC16. My research focusses on how New Zealand mānuka honey can improve the probiotic efficacy (growth and antibacterial activity) of one Lactobacilli strain. 

“While studying, the networking opportunities within the food industry have meant that I can work on practical challenges and research problems. I’ve also found the doctoral support group and workshops on doctoral skills are really helpful.

“I want to make an original contribution to scientific knowledge in Food Science and Technology."


Jakob Gaa, PhD in Medicinal Chemistry, School of Chemical Sciences
Jakob Gaa

Jakob Gaar

Jakob Gaar is studying toward a PhD in Chemistry with a focus on Medicinal Chemistry.

“Science always fascinated me, following my bachelors and masters with a PhD seemed like the next logical step in my academic career.

“My thesis topic is about the impact of a class of molecules called Advanced Glycation Endproducts on the properties of proteins.

"These molecules derive naturally in the human body where they modify functional proteins and participate in the pathogenesis of several diseases like diabetes.

“My studies are fairly interdisciplinary between organic synthesis for the preparation of the building blocks for peptide chemistry. If I’m successful these peptides can be used in different bio-assays and structural investigations via NMR-spectroscopy, which opens a lot of opportunities to work in new areas of research.

“I hope my research helps me to find a position in an international company.”