Category Archives: Student stories

Demystifying what Chemistry postgrads do

Recently a group of undergraduates got to try their lab coats on for size in the inaugural Chemistry Research Buddy Week. Dr Sarah Masters reflects on what made it so successful.

We worked with ChemSoc President, Nic Bason, to give students the opportunity to find out what Chemistry postgrads do, how they do it and why they take the research steps they do. Our intention was to demystify the process and open eyes to the possibilities that exist in research.

During the week, the undergrads spent part of, or a whole day, shadowing a postgrad in the Department of Chemistry to see what they do in their day-to-day research life. Not only were they planning and doing experiments, analysing the results, and trying to work out what it all meant, but they also got involved in outreach activities that happened to be running that week, and checked out the tea room.

A total of 27 undergraduate students took part with 18 postgrads (from 400L to PhD) involved as buddies. Chemical specialties ranged from environmental science through organic and inorganic synthesis to chemical modelling and mathematical applications. In general, the undergraduate students spent between 4 to 7 hours shadowing their research buddy, participating in the research labs, group meetings, and seminars, as well as coming to the communal tea room for lunch and other breaks.

Reports from the undergraduate students indicate that they really enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the department, to find out more about what postgraduate study means and to talk first-hand with students engaged in Honours, Masters and Doctoral study. Many indicated that it had helped to clarify their thinking about postgraduate study in Chemistry, and that they had enjoyed it so much that they would like more opportunities to take part, with several buddy weeks a year! The postgraduate students echoed this sentiment, with lots of positive ideas about how to take the initiative forward to 2017 and beyond.

Sarah Masters

UC Sport Mascot Competion – Winners

We would like to officially announce the results of the UC Sport mascot competition!

3rd Place
– Winner of $200 prize pack…
The Canterbury Collie, designed by Felicity Powell.

2nd Place – Winner of $400 prize pack…
The Falcon (Maori concept) designed by Rosie Irving and Daniel Batistich

1st Place and Grand Prize Winner of the $1000 prize pack…
Tapuae, the Falcon designed by Jeff Bell.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this great project from the entrants, judges, you the voters and our major sponsor BLK. It has been an exciting journey, but its not over yet!

Now what?

Well, we are currently working on designs to incorporate this into playing uniforms that UC students will wear when representing University of Canterbury at University & Tertiary Sport NZ events.
But don’t worry, we are also producing a full range of casual sportswear apparel that will be available when you all return in 2017! #UCSport#BLK#UCFalcons

See the photos here:

Mascot pic2

From left: 1st prize, 2nd prize, 3rd prize

UC Sustainability Awards: Recap

The annual UC Sustainability Awards are our chance to celebrate the great work being undertaken by UC students and staff in making our world that bit more sustainable. And there is a lot of that work happening here: this year we had twice as many nominations as there were prizes, which gave our panel of independent judges a lot to think about.

But, after grappling with the wide diversity of nominations, which included everything from participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to community gardening, the judges came up with their decisions. The awards were presented at the conclusion of Eco Week by UCSA President James Addington and the UCSA Exec representative for sustainability Johnny Duncan.

The Supreme Award Winner, winning a package trip to Kaikoura amongst other goodies, was a team from Chemical and Process Engineering and Chemistry who have developed a synthetic leaf that could be a real game-changer in the race to find technical fixes to the global climate change problem. Alex Yip, Iman Hashemizadeh and Vladimir Golovko blew the judges away with their audacious project, which has also been garnering international attention.

supreme winners1 compressed

Other winners included UC Procurement for their work in developing the Fairtrade Accreditation business case, which has meant UC is now firmly on the path to becoming a Fairtrade Accredited campus – a project that has been in the pipeline for around five years if not longer. Professors Eric Pawson and Simon Kingham won the Gold staff award for their trailblazing community service paper GEOG309, and George Moon won the Gold student award for his efforts in creating the Eco Club Network.

simon with george moon compressed

A full list of the winners, and more information about their projects, can be found here.

Congratulations to all the winners, and to all of the nominees who are doing such great work.

UC student Malaga (journey) to Samoa

WP_20160921_16_38_07_ProA group of students from the College of Education, Health & Human Development is about to embark on an educational malaga (trip) to Samoa, led by Leali’ie’e Tofilau Tufulasi Taleni, who is Kaiārahi Pasifika at the college.

In this blog, Tufulasi talks about the goals of the trip, and the need for education providers to understand Pasifika culture to better cater for New Zealand’s diverse learners.

Knowing and understanding the students we teach is crucial for building effective relationships with our students. This is one of the key principles behind our malaga to Samoa this month. The educational trip will provide an opportunity for our future teachers to learn about Samoan culture by living in a village with Samoan families.

This group of students will be enriched with knowledge and understanding about the importance of Pasifika identity, language and culture and how this understanding contributes to raising achievement, success and wellbeing of Pasifika learners. Research shows that utilizing students’ prior learning and experiences in teaching and learning makes a positive influence on students’ engagement. Implementing a culturally-based pedagogy developed from Pasifika cultural values is therefore critical in supporting students through the process of understanding subject content.

Although Pacific culture itself is diverse, values such as respect, service, reciprocity, leadership, spirituality, belonging and family are all part of what we might understand as a Pasifika worldview. The more our teachers understand this worldview, the more they will understand their Pasifika students, and the better they will be in developing strategies and programmes to raise their engagement and achievement.

One of the great things about these malaga, is that they provide an opportunity for non-Pasifika educators to be immersed in Samoan culture – living with families in the village, participating in village and family life, attending churches, experiencing customs and traditions, immersing in the Samoan language and also visiting schools on the island.

On previous trips, the educators were humbled by the hospitality and generosity of the Samoan people and came to truly understand the values of love, service and reciprocity enacted by the community. The villagers may have limited material resources but they are rich in the value of connectedness within the family and community. If a culture like that of Samoa can harness its cultural values, such as generosity, hospitality, love and service, in a genuine and meaningful way to change people’s lives, then it may be possible that teachers and educators can use the same tools to lift engagement and achievement.

In Samoa, we have a saying “E felelei manu, ae ma’au i o latou ofaga”, meaning birds fly everywhere, but always return to their nests. The message is simple – always remember your identity and culture.

Leali’ie’e Tufulasi Taleni has led the similar educational malaga (trips) in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2013 for teachers and school leaders through his role at UC Education Plus as Senior Adviser Pasifika Education. These malaga were hosted by his family in his village of Vaiafai Iva on the island of Savai’i. You can see more from the 2013 trip in this great video.

Photo: Leali’ie’e Tofilau Tufulasi Taleni with five of the group from the College of Education, Health & Human Development who will shortly leave for a Malaga (trip) to Samoa.

Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Students

Do you know an entrepreneurial student looking to branch out into the startup world?

Applications close soon for the 2016/17 Summer Startup Programme.

If you know of any student who would be interested in this opportunity, please direct them to the Summer Startup web page.

The Summer Startup Programme is a 10 week programme run from November 2016 to February 2017. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to become involved in the start-up world.

We accept students with or without an existing venture into the programme. We also offer a number of scholarships which provide students with $5,000 paid over the duration of the Summer Startup Programme.

By participating in the Summer Startup programme students will benefit from:

  • Mentoring from experienced Canterbury business people
  • Engaging workshops and seminars from our staff and local industry
  • Support to progress your business
  • Dedicated space to work on a venture right here on campus in the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Applications close at 12pm on Thursday 15 September.