Postition: Chemical Research Technician - Senior Technician, AgResearch.
Field: Chemical ecology, Biotechnology, Biological, environmental and chemical sciences.
When we first met Nikki she was a student studying biotechnology and environmental sciences, with a focus on marine science at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, and the Coastal Marine Field Station in Tauranga.
Nikki was in her final year of a BSc (Tech) majoring in biotechnology and environmental sciences at the University of Waikato when this article was written in 2012. She has always been interested in science, particularly marine sciences, so getting a Summer Research Scholarship in 2012 gave her the perfect opportunity to experience the research aspects in this field. She thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would love to continue in this area.
During her time as a research student on the Summer Scholarship, Nikki has been involved with a number of different tasks, such as researching biodiscovery laws for New Zealand and researching previous marine pharmaceutical studies. Part of the work involved preparing and giving presentations and posters at conferences. The other aspect was going into the field to collect samples for testing and also into the laboratory to process and preserve those samples. She is in the process of writing reports about the research completed.
I love marine sciences and discovering new things, and the marine world is so unstudied at the moment that there are many possibilities and opportunities to discover amazing things from the marine environment.
Nikki is keen to combine both biotechnology and marine sciences to research into natural marine pharmaceuticals for both medicinal and agrichemical purposes. She is also interested in marine aquaculture.
In 2016 Nikki started working at AgResearch and was part of the team that won the 2017 Team Award at Science New Zealand' s inaugural national awards. This group of scientists discovered a novel endophyte, AR37, that provides ryegrass with better insect protection advantages and plant persistence than that delivered by standard endophytes, but has few adverse effects on animal health.
Nikki loves hanging out with her friends – especially at the beach. She also loves sailing, swimming, boating and snorkelling. She enjoys travelling to new and different places to find out about different cultures – their lives and food.
This article, Sea sponges and rongoā, describes how pharmaceuticals can be gleaned from the ocean and the challenges involved in this research.
This article is based on information current in 2012 and updated in 2018.