Position: Associate Professor, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington.
Field: Chemistry / Immunology.
Dr Bridget Stocker was the Immunoglycomics Group Leader at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. In collaboration with Dr Mattie Timmer, she ran a research programme aimed at understanding the role of carbohydrates and the immune response.
Bridget has always had a variety of interests, from the arts to the sciences. Undecided about what career to pursue, she enrolled in a conjoint degree that included chemistry, technology, management and law. After meeting Dr John Hoberg from Victoria University of Wellington in her third year and being impressed by his enthusiasm, Bridget undertook an honours research programme in chemistry in his group. She then went on to complete a PhD. She enjoyed the medical focus and being involved in research that might lead to better therapies and treatments for people.
Do what you enjoy
Bridget taught for a short while at Victoria University of Wellington before obtaining a research position in Switzerland. When she returned to New Zealand, she obtained a position at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, before returning to Victoria University.
When she was the Group Leader, at Malaghan Institute of Medical Research Bridget was responsible for overseeing the research programmes of graduate students and research scientists, developing novel research ideas, preparing papers for publication, writing grant applications and giving public presentations. Bridget considered the highlights of her job there as interacting with students, learning new things and contributing to the wider scientific community.
Bridget’s interests lie in understanding the role of carbohydrates in immunology. Carbohydrate derivatives are found on the surface of cells and regulate so many processes (such as bacterial and viral infection, and cell-to-cell ‘communication’), it is impossible to ignore their importance.
Bridget says science is ideal for a person who gets bored easily and who likes a challenge.
Science is a highly creative discipline. It is only through creativity that new drugs or therapies can be developed.
In 2011 Bridget was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Easterfield Medal in recognition of significant research by an emerging chemist.
Bridget is now leading the Immunoglycomics Research group (with Mattie Timmer), at Victoria University of Wellington.
Bridget also enjoys painting and drawing and has illustrated a children’s book and designed logos (including the one for the MacDiarmid Institute), and she written a novel Radium – a love story, which won fiction section for the 2011 Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Writing. Bridget enjoys fussing over Marmalade, the neighbour’s cat, that ‘adopted’ her (under mutual consent by all).
Bridget is working with Dr Mattie Timmer to design drugs and strengthen existing vaccines for tuberculosis, find out more in the article Designing drugs and making molecules.
In this 2023 article Improving vaccine adjuvants from Royal Society Te Apārangi read how Bridget has juggled 4 kids, 4 patents and 16 publications since 2015.
Discover more about the latest developments in Bridget and Mattie's research in this 2023 RNZ interview.
Find out more about Bridget and Mattie in this 2020 Victoria University of Wellington article.
See Bridget's profile on the Victoria University of Wellington's website.
This article was based on information current in 2010 and updated in 2023.